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'=«^^' f 










Charles Edward Mathews 

Sometime President of the Alpine Club 
{Membre honoraire du Club Alpin Franfais) 

T. G. BONNEY, D.Sc, LL.D., F.R.S. 












^T^HIS book is in no sense a record of personal 

adventure. It is a History of Mont Blanc ; 

and I have endeavoured to put together within the 

compass of one volume everything of interest which 

IS knowji in connection with this famous mountain. 

For a great number of years I have been a 
traveller in every part of the Alps. Every centre 
of mountaineering has its own peculiar charm, but 
I have found in the chain of Mont Blanc a constant 
and irresistible fascination. It has been my good 
fortune to have climbed the great mountain twelve 
times, and — irrespective of variations — by most of the 
different routes by which the summit can be attained. 
It is not unnaturaly therefore, that I should have 
endeavoured to make myself acquainted with its 
traditions and its history ; but here my difficulties 
began. No real history of the mountain for Eng- 
lish readers exists. Its records are to be found in 

ix I* 


isolated publications^ most of them rare and difficult 
to obtain ; in miscellaneous articles in English and 
Foreign magazines ; and in the forgotten cohimns of 
the British and Continental press. For many years 
I have made the collection of these fugitive records 
the object of my peculiar care, and have succeeded in 
gathering together a mass of valuable material 

I am well aware that efforts have already been 
made to tell the public something at any rate of the 
story of the mountain. Albert Smith wrote " The 
Story of Mont Blanc " nearly fifty years ago ; but 
his brochure is to a great extent a record of his own 
ascent, is full of inacctiracies, and is now wholly ottt 
of date. Mr. Edward Whymper, a great authority 
on mountaineering in general and on the Alps in 
particular, has published ''A Guide to Chamonix 
and Mont Blanc,'" which contains more accurate and 
valuable information on the subject of which it treats 
than is to be found in any similar publication. But 
interesting as this work is, it is a guide book rather 
than a history. M. Charles Durier, the President 
of the French Alpine Club, is the only yuan who has 
hitherto written a complete history of the mountain. 
I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to do for 
English readers — though on somewhat different lines 
— what M. Durier has already done so admirably 
for his countrymeft. 


My task has been rendered less onerotis owing to 
the courteo7is and kitidly assistance which I have 
received from many friends both at home and abroad, 
and ivhich I desire heartily and gratefully to 

Signor Vittorio Sella, well known not only as a 
mountaineer but as an artist, has been so obliging as 
to place all his photographs of Mont Blanc at my 
disposal, and has also been good enough to prepare 
five plates specially for Messrs. Swan & Company, 
who have executed the photogravures. 

I have also to thank Mr. Eric Greenwood for his 
excellent photograph of the Dome Route and the 
Aiguilles Grises. I am indebted for the loan of 
some rare books to M. Auger d of Bourg, M. T. de 
Saussure, M. J. Vallot, Mr. Henry Cockburn, and 
Lady Emily Peel. Professor Bonney, formerly 
President of the Royal Geological Society, has been 
good enough to supply a chapter on the geology of the 
mountain, and Mr. J. Ashby Sterry has allowed 
me to reprodttce a fine portrait of Albert Smith. 
Adolphe Balmat has supplied me with the manu- 
script diary, hitherto unknown, written by his cele- 
brated great gra7idfather. Dr. Paccar d; and M.J. P. 
Cachat, of Chamonix, has placed at my service a rare 
portrait of the Doctor which is in his possession. 

I have received much valuable information and 



assistance from M. Gabriel Loppe, M. Albert 
Barbey, M. T. Dufour, and M. Louis Kurz. 
Also from Professor Sonnensckein, Mr. C. T. Dent, 
Mr. Henry Pasteur, Dr. Garnett (of the British 
Museum), and others. M. Durier has not only 
allowed me the use of his }nap, but has given me 
from time to time information, sympathy, and 
encouragement ; a7td the Rev. H. B. George, Mr. 
D. W. Freshfeld, and Mr. G. H. Morse have 
taken infinite pains in verifying the details of my 
story, and in correcting its pages for the Press. 

I have been advised and have determined to give 
am,ple particulars of the various ascents of the inoun- 
tain from the time of Paccard and Balmat (lySd), 
when it was first climbed, down to the time of Albert 
Smith (i8^i), when the ascent became fashionable. 
Readers who are mountaineers will be glad to have 
these details ; and those who are not, will I hope 
pardon what may seem to be unnecessary repe- 

My first attempt on Mont Blanc was made in 
18^6, and m.y last successftd ascent in August, i8g8. 
For thirty-five of these years I have had the -price- 
less benefit of the companionship and the services of 
Melchior Anderegg, of Meyringen, perhaps the 
greatest all-round guide whom, the love of moun- 
taineering has ever produced. Whatever moun- 



taineering successes I have achieved, I owe almost 
entirely to hini. He has led me in eight of my 
ascents of the mojtntai^i, and it is with a peculiar 
pleasure and pride that I record that I never heard 
him utter a word to which the gentlest woman could 
object, and that I have never found him unequal to 
any kind of emergency. 

I now ask my readers to examine closely the 
picture of Mont Bla?tc, taken from the Br^vent, 
which forms the frontispiece to this volume, hi the 
extreme left corner are the rocks of the Grands 
Mulets, and just above them the Aiguille Pitschner. 
The ordinary Chatnonix route lies up the glacier 
to the Vallot rocks on the extreme right, and 
thence by ivay of the Bosses du Dromadaire to 
the summit. It was the narrow7iess of the lower 
end of this ridge which foiled the early explorers. 
On the extreme left is the Corridor, and above the 
Corridor, in two lines, are the Rochers Rouges. 
Above the higher Rochers Rotiges, and descending 
to the right toToards the Grand Plateau, is the 
'' ancien passage'' discovered by Jacques Balmat. 
On the right of the picture are the slopes of the 
Dome. A thorough knowledge of the geography of 
the 7nountain is essential to a complete zinderstanding 
of much of the history ivhich these pages describe. 

No one knows better than myself how muck this 



volume falls short of the ideal which I hoped to 
attain, and yet I a7n not without hope that the 
Annals of Mont Blanc may prove of interest not 
to mountaineers only, but also to the general reader. 

Four Oaks, 

Near Birmingham, 

'November i8p8. 






The position of Mont Blanc — Konrad Gesner— Josias Simler — 
Thomas Coryat — John Jacob Scheuchzer and his dragons — 
Les Montagnes Maudites — Early maps — Sherwill's re- 
searches — Early visits to Chamonix — The visit of William 
Windham, Dr. Pococke, and others — The visit of Peter 
Martel — The account of the Glacieres or Ice Alps in Savoy . i 



Nicolas de Saussnrc — Horace Benedict de Saussure — Voyages 
dans les Alpes — Saussure' s love of Mont Blanc — His 
" Discours preliminaire " — Marc Theodore Bourrit — His 
" Nouvelle Description des Glacieres — Saussure offers a 
reward to the man who can find a way up the mountain — 
Pierre Simond's attempt in 1762 — Four guides make the 
attempt in 1775 — The Montague de la Cote — The attempt 
of 1783 — The sentiments of Lombard Meunier — Dr. Paccard 
and his diary 19 






Dr. Paccard and M. Bourrit investigate the Western side — 
Couttet and Cuidet climb on their own account — The 
attempt of Couttet and Meunier in 1785 — Saussure's first 
attempt from St. Gervais — His failure — Construction of 
cabins — The attempt of 1786 — The route from Chamonix 
found to be shorter than that from St. Gervais — The Paccard 
narrative — Jacques Balmat appears upon the scene . . 36 



Balmat's opinion of himself — His dreams of conquest — His 
bivouac on the rocks of the Grands Mulcts — His first failure 
— His interview with Paccard, Carrier, and Tournier — His 
attempt with them — He is stopped by the Bosses — His 
desertion by his fellows — He passes a night alone on the 
Grand Plateau — His return to Chamonix — Balmat consults 
Dr. Paccard — They start together and sleep on the Mon- 
tagne de la Cote — The following day they reach the summit 
in fourteen hours — Their sufferings 54 



Jean Pierre Tairraz sends the news to Saussure — Saussure's con- 
fidences to Tairraz — Saussure gets as far as the Montagne 
de la Cote in 1786, but no further — Balmat's second ascent 
with Cachat and Tournier in 1787 — Saussure's victory on 
the 2nd of August, 1787 — He emplo)'S eighteen guides — 
The excursion occupies four days — His experiments and 

observations — His happy return 72 






The rival merits of the two pioneers — The trustworthiness or 
otherwise of the Dumas narrative — The meeting of Dumas 
and Balmat in 1832 — Balmat's opinion of Paccard — The 
errors in the Dumas narrative — The loss of Paccard' s 
printed story — Consideration of Balmat's assertions to 
Dumas — The evidence of Saussure, Charles Bonnet, 
Bourrit, Coxe, Leschevin, and Michel Carrier — The con- 
troversy in the J^ournal de Lausanne — The certificate given 
by Balmat to Paccard — The discovery of the "ancien 
passage " — Both pioneers entitled to equal honour . . 91 



Ascents — Beaufoy in 1787 — Woodley in 1788— Doorthesen and 
Fornerct in 1802 — !Maria Paradis in 1809 — Matzewski in 
1818 — Howard, Rensselaer, and Undrell in 1819 — Clissold 
in 1822 — Jackson in 1823 — Clark and Sherwill in 1825 — 
Hawes and Fellows, and Auldjo in 1827 .... 108 



ALBERT SMITH { continued ) 

Ascents — Wilbraham in 1830 — Barry and Tilly in 1834 — Atkins, 
Pidwel and Hedrengen in 1837 — Henriette d'Angeville, 
Eisenkramer and Stoppen in 1838 — St. Angelo in 1840 — 
Carelli, Nicholson and Caux, Bosworth, Cross, and Blanc 
in 1843 — Bravais, Martins, and Le Pileur in 1844 — Bouille, 
and Woolley and Hurt in 1846 — Richards and Gretton, and 

Gardner, and Galton in 1850 144 







The early life of Albert Smith — His craze for Mont Blanc— His 
first journey to Chamonix in 1838 — The labour of the 
journey in those days — His lectures in London and its 
vicinity — His connection with Punch — The overland mail — 
His journey to Chamonix in 1851 — His meeting with Mr. 
West and his friends — Preparations for the ascent — Extra- 
ordinary commissariat — The successful ascent of the party — 
His exaggerated account of the dangers — Newspaper criti- 
cism — Burford's Panorama — The entertainment at the 
Egyptian Hall 176 



The necessity of Alpine co-operation — The letter of Mr. 
William Mathews to the Rev. F. J. A. Hort — The origin of 
the Alpine Club and its first members — Kennedy's new 
route — Hudson makes the ascent by the Bosses du Droma- 
daire — The complete Western ascent first made by Leslie 
Stephen and F. F. Tuckett — The route by the Eastern ridge 
— The Brenva route — The Rochers du Mont Blanc route — 
The Dome route — Modern maps of the Chain — The Brouil- 
lard route — Herr Paul Gussfeldt — Summary of routes . . 197 



The causes of accidents — The Hamel catastrophe, 1820 — The 
discovery of the bodies of the guides after an entombment 



of forty-one years — The accident on the Col du Geant in 
i860 — The death of Ambroise Couttet in 1864 — ^^^- Young's 
death in 1866 — The Arkwright accident in the same year — 
The deaths of Mrs. Marke and Olivier Gay in 1870 — The 
loss of eleven lives in the same year — The death of 
Fedchenko in 1873 — The deaths of Marshall and Fischer 
in 1874 — The deaths of Balfour and Petrus in 1882 — The 
death of Rey in 1885 — The death of Brunod in 1890 — Five 
other lives lost in the same year — The deaths of Rothe and 
Simond in 1891, of Xettleship in 1892, of Poggi in 1893, and 
of Cumani in the same year — The loss of three lives in 1895, 
and of one in 1898 — The St. Gervais catastrophe . . . 222 



Chamois hunters and crystal finders made the first guides — 
" Livrets de service " — The organisation of the guides of 
Chamonix in 1823 — Oppressive regulations — Results — The 
abolition of the Society of Guides in 1892 — The new Syndi- 
cate and its effects 248 



The numbers of French, German, Swiss, and Italian Alpine 
Clubs — Surplus funds — Construction of refuges all over 
the Alps — The first cabin on the Grands Mulcts — The 
first, second, and third "hotelleries" — Marie Tairraz — The 
huts on the Rochers du Mont Blanc route — On the Dome 
route — On the Aiguille du Gouter, and at the foot of the 
Aiguille du Midi — The various shelters on the Chamonix 
side — The Vallot Observatory — The Janssen Observatory . 261 






The sufferings of the early explorers and means now taken to 
avoid them — Heat and cold on IMont Blanc — Proper clothing 
and proper food — The effect of low atmospheric pressures — 
The cost of mountaineering in old and modern days — 
Perfect physical health necessar>' to due appreciation of 
mountain beauty — Conclusion 274 


T. G. Bonney, D.Sc, LL.D., F.R.S. . . .286 



Table of Ascexts from 1786 to 1851 i\ Order of Date . 321 

Table of Fatalities which have occurred ox Moxt 
Blaxc, 1 820-1898, IN Order of Date .... 323 

Letter from Jacques Balmat, August 31, 1825 . . . 324 

Letter from Axgelique Paradis to Mademoiselle d'Axge- 
ville, September 3, 1846 324 

F.ACSiMiLE of "An Account of the Glacieres or Ice Alps 
IN Savoy," published in 1744 — Facsimile of Map from 
SAME volume — Facsimile of Certificate given by 
the Bureau des Guides to John Auldjo in 1827 . . 327 

INDEX 359 




MoKT Blanx from the Brevent. The northern view. 
From a drawmg by Mr. E. T. Compton . . Frontispiece 
The Old Refuge at Moxtanvert axd Blair's Cabix. 
From a drawing by Edmund H. New . . . Title page 
OxE OF Scheuchzer's Dragoxs. Reproduced from " Itinera 
per Helvetias Alpinas Regiones," 1723, vol, i. To face page 6 
The Old Refuge at the Moxtaxvert, This building, 
with its inscription " A la Nature," was constructed near 
the site of Blair's cabin (built about 1779), which bore the 
motto " Utile dulce." The improved refuge was con- 
structed in 1795, at the cost of M. Desportes, the French 
Resident at Geneva. From a photograph by Tempest 

Anderson To face page 16 

Portrait of William Wixdham. Reproduced from the 
Literary Life of Benjamin Stillingfleet. The original por- 
trait painted by Shackleton . . , To face page 18 
Portrait of Horace Bexedict de Saussure, After the 
picture by Juehl, in the Library at Geneva. From a photo- 
graph by La Croix, of Geneva . . . To face page 24 
Portrait of Michel Gabriel Paccard. Reproduced 
from an old portrait in the possession of M. J. P, Cachat, 
of Chamonix (his great grandson). From a photograph by 

Tairraz, of Chamonix To face page 32 

Portrait of Jacques Balmat. Reproduced from a 
"Notice biographique sur Jacques Balmat dit Mont 
Blanc," par Michel Carrier. Geneva, 1854. To face page 54 


List of Illustrations 

9. Portrait of Horace Benedict de Saussure. After the 
picture by St. Ours. A wood engraving, by Edward 
Whymper To face page 72 

10. The Statues of H. B. de Saussure axd Jacques 
Balmat, at Chamoxix. On the back is the following 
inscription : " Erigc en mdccclxxxvii., avec le concours des 
Clubs Alpins Frangais, Suisse, Italien, Anglais, L' Appala- 
chian Mountain Club of Boston, La Societe des Touristes 
Autrichiens, et de I'Academie des Sciences de Paris." From 

a photograph by Tairraz, of Chamonix . To face page 90 

11. Portrait of Jacques Balmat. Reproduced from an old 
lithograph. Original by Wiebel . . . To face page 100 

12. The "Axcien P.assage" discovered by Jacques Balmat 
in 1786, with the Rochers Rouges. From a wood 
engraving by Edward Whymper . . . To face page 104 

13. Medallion of Jacques Balmat on block of granite in 
front of the old Church at Chamonix, with this inscription : 
" A Jacques Balmat, La Societe Geologique de France 
avec le concours du Club Alpin Frangais. Aout 1878" 

To face page 106 

14. The Rocks of the Grands Mulets showing route taken 
by the early explorers. Reproduced from " Ascensions aux 
cimes De I'Etna et du Mont Blanc," par Le Comte Henri de 
Tilly. Geneva, 1835 To face page 150 

15. Portrait of Mademoiselle Henriette d'Angeville. 
Reproduced from a " notice biographique" by Mary Paillon. 
Paris, 1894 To face page 158 

16. Portrait of Albert Smith. Reproduced from an old 
picture by C. Baugniet To face page 196 

17. Mont Blanc from the Summit of the Aiguille du 
Midi. The Western ridge, showing the Bosses, the 
Vallot rock, the Grand Plateau, the Dome, and the Aiguille 
du Gouter. From a photograph by Signer Vittorio Sella. 

To face page 204 

18. Mont Blanc from the Western Summit of the 
Grandes Jorasses, showing the Eastern ridge, the Mont 
Maudit, and the Mont Blanc de Tacul. Below are the 

XX ii 

List of Illustrations 

Dome de Rochefoit, the Dent du Geant, and the Mont Mallet. 
From a photograph by Signor Vittorio Sella. To face page 208 

19. MoxT Blaxc from Mont Herbetet (Gr^vian Alps), show- 
ing the Southern view ; also the Corridor, the Mont Maudit, 
and the Mont Blanc dc Tacul, with (from left to right) the 
glaciers of Brouillard, Fresnay, and Brenva. From a photo- 
graph by Signor Vittorio Sella . . . To face page 2 10 

20. The Dome Route up Mont Blaxc, showing on right 
the Dome glacier, on left the Italian glacier of Bionnassa}', 
in centre the rocks of the Aiguilles Grises. From a photo- 
graph by Mr. Eric Greenwood . . . To face page 212 

21. MoxT Blaxc from the Aiguille Noire, showing also 
the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur, with the Aiguille Blanche 
de Peteret and the Tour Ronde below. From a photo- 
graph by Signor Vittorio Sella . . . To face page 2iS 

22. The Ice Lake ix the Glacier of Tete Rousse after 
THE Catastrophe of 1892. From a photograph by 
Tairraz, of Chamonix To face page 246 

23. The Ruixs of the Baths of St. Gervais and the 
Gardens, after the Catastrophe of 1892. From a 
photograph by Tairraz, of Chamonix . . To face page 246 

24. P0RTR.AIT OF Jean P.ayot (the Friend of Jacques This portrait was taken when Payot was sixty- 
four. He was ninety-three in iSgS. From a photograph by 
Couttet et Fils, Chamonix . ... To face page 254 

25. Portrait of Michel Payot. From a photograph by 
Mr. James Eccles To face page 2S4 

26. Portrait of Francois Devouassoud at Fifty-six. From 

a photograph by Captain Abney . . . To face page 2^^^ 

27. Portrait of Melchior Axderegg at Sixty-eight. From 

a photograph by C. Myles Mathews . . To face page 2$^ 

28. Mont Blanc from the Summit of the Aiguille du 
Midi, showing the Mont Maudit, the Calotte, and the 
Bosses. From a photograph by Signor Vittorio Sella. 

To face page 260 

29. Hut on the Aiguille du Gouter, From a sketch by 
E. T. Coleman. From a photograph by C. Mj'les Mathews. 

To face page 264 

List of Illustrations 

30. The Old Hut on the Grands Mulets, from a pencil 
drawing by Adams Reilly. From a photograph by C. Myles 
Mathews To face page 264 

31. The Observatory on the Summit of Mont Blanc. 
From a photograph by Tairraz, of Chamonix. 

To face page 272 

32. The Vallot Observatory and the Vallot Refuge, 
looking North. From a photograph by Tairraz, of 
Chamonix To face page 272 

33. Initials Cut by Jacques Balmat on a Rock on the 
Grands Mulets: "J9 B. 1786." This fragment of rock 
is now in the Mairic at Chamonix. From a photograph by 
Tairraz, of Chamonix To face page 272 

34. Diagram Illustrating the Geology of Mont Blanc. 

Page 294 


35. Facsimile of an Account of the Glacieres, or Ice Alps, in 
Savoy, in two letters, one from an English gentleman to 
his friend at Geneva ; the other from Peter Martel to the 
said English gentleman, as laid before the Royal Society, 
London, 1744 327 

36. Facsimile of the Map appended to tlie " Account of the 
Glacieres, or Ice Alps, in Savoy, 1744," where the name of 
" Mont Blanc " appears for the first time on a map. 

To face page 356 Appendix 

37. Facsimile of the Certificate given by the Bureau des Guides 
to evidence a successful ascent of Mont Blanc. This was 
given to John Auldjo, and is reproduced from "Narrative 
of an Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc," by John Auldjo. 
London, 1828 357 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 



THE noble mountain which dominates the Alps, but 
which did not bear its present name till about 
one hundred and sixty years ago, rises to a height of 
15,782 feet above the level of the sea. It forms the 
centre of a group of peaks and glaciers of immense 
interest and variety. This group, now known as the 
"Chain of Mont Blanc," measures from east to west 
about thirty English miles, but from north to south, not 
more than ten miles. The beautiful valley of Chamonix 
forms for the most part its northern boundary, and the 
water from its glaciers flowing north, finds its way into 
the river Arve, and thence to the Rhone. Its southern 
boundary consists of two Italian valleys, called the 
Allee Blanche and Val Ferret, whose waters meet near 
Courmayeur and form the river Dora Baltea. On the 
west it is bounded entirely by the Val Montjoie, the 

I B 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

chief villages in which are St. Gervais and Contamines, 
and its eastern boundary is sufficiently defined by the 
high road extending from Martigny in the valley of the 
Rhone, to Orsieres. 

Most of the northern and western slopes of this 
fascinating chain are situated in Savoy ; the greater part 
of the south-eastern slope belongs to the Duchy of 
Aosta, and forms part of the kingdom of Italy ; the 
eastern end of the chain is in Switzerland ; and although 
its area is small as compared with some other mountain 
ranges, three languages are spoken on its base. 

The chain of Mont Blanc contains more than thirty 
peaks, of which many are of the first order, some of the 
Aiguille or needle type, composed of slaty crystalline 
rocks, varying from ii,ooo to nearly 14,000 feet in height. 
It is also the home of twenty great glaciers and many 
smaller ones ; and in the centre of this mighty group, 
but high above them all, visible from places three 
hundred miles apart, soars that " silent pinnacle of aged 
snow," known in the middle ages as Mont Maudit, or the 
accursed mountain, but in later years as the White 
Mountain or Mont Blanc. 

It is of stupendous natural beauty. In no other part 
of the Alps are the mountain forms of such infinite 
variety, or the snow fields so amazing in shape and size. 
In no other part of the Alps are the great rock walls more 
fantastic or more terrible, or the seracs of more dazzling 
splendour. The great summit must have been seen for 
countless years, flushed with rose at dawn and sunset, 
by thousands of men and women, but there was no 


Legendary and Historical 

speculation in those eyes. In fine summer dawns it 
must have been visible from Lyons and Macon, and 
from the distant Italian plains. The peasants must 
have often watched it as they garnered their hay on 
the sunny slopes of Jura, and from many an elevation 
in the still more distant north. To whom did it first 
occur to explore the recesses of that great shrine of 
nature, and to plant the human foot on the summit of 
that " heaven-kissing hill " ? 

The love of adventure is as old as the hills themselves, 
but the appreciation of mountain beauty is a plant of 
modern growth. Old poets and writers have only the 
terms terrible and horrible in their Alpine vocabulary, 
the glaciers were known only as a difficulty, and the 
mountains as a danger. Many men crossed the Alps 
between the days of Hannibal and the days of Napoleon, 
but they had no eye for the beauties of nature, and 
apparently little taste or inclination to record what they 
saw. It is true that Petrarch ascended Mont Ventoux, 
and Leonardo da Vinci Explored some parts of Monte 
Rosa, but their motive was rather curiosity than a desire 
of mountaineering for its own sake. 

Konrad Gesner of Zurich, however, had the genuine 
mountaineering spirit. Mr. W. A. B. Coolidge tells us ^ 
that in the year 1541, Gesner wrote to his friend Vogel 
of Glarus, " I am resolved henceforth that ... I will 
ascend several mountains, or at least one, every year, 
when the flowers are in their glory, partly for the sake of 
examining them and partly for the sake of good bodily 

' " Swiss Travel aud Swiss Guide Books," p. 12. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

exercise and of mental delight. For how great a 
pleasure think you is it, . . . for a man touched as he 
ought to be, to wonder at the mass of the mountains 
as one gazes on their vastness and to lift up one's head 
as it were amongst the clouds " : 

" Good bodily exercise and menial deiiglit." 

These words would form a fitting motto for the Alpine 
Club. It is remarkable to find here, says Sir Frederick 
Pollock, " in the words of a Swiss naturalist, that love 
of the sublime and picturesque elements in wild nature 
which is often supposed to have been born with 
Rousseau, two centuries later, but this is a love of 
wild scenery and something more ; there is the love 
of earning the sight by one's own muscular toil, the 
genuine mountaineering spirit." ^ 

After Gesner came Josias Simler, who, writing in 1574, 
gave advice to travellers above the snow-line that might 
have been written yesterday, and who more than three 
centuries ago actually recommended the use of the rope 
and the "goggle." Thomas Coryat, who wrote in 161 1, 
was a great traveller, and crossed the Mont Cenis on his 
way to Venice ; but his chief mountaineering discovery 
appears to have been that the peaks which divide the 
Rhine and the Rhone, are " the highest of all the 
Alpine mountains." Bishop Burnett, writing in 1685, 
makes an interesting reference to Mont Blanc. There 
is, he says, " one hill not far from Geneva called 
Maudit, or cursed, of which one-third is always covered 

' " Mountaineering." Badminton Series, p. lo. 


Legendary and Historical 

with snow." The most interesting of the old works 
on Alpine travel is undoubtedly that of John Jacob 
Sclieuclizer, who was born in 1672. He published his 
"Itinera Alpina" in Latin, in 1723. The work is pro- 
fusely illustrated, and gives an account of Swiss journeys 
taken by the author in the years 1702-1711. According 
to the preface, it was designed to supply a guide to 
"plain and mountain, to lakes, rivers, valleys, steep 
crags, even to the lofty summits of the Alps themselves." 
Now Scheuchzer was a Fellow of the Royal Society, 
which published at its own expense part at least of his 
work, some of the more interesting plates being pre- 
pared and executed at the cost of Sir Isaac Newton. 
Scheuchzer was thirty years of age when he made his 
first journey. He was a Doctor of Medicine and Pro- 
fessor of Mathematics in the University of Zurich. His 
scientific knowledge was of a very rudimentary kind. 
A certain lake, he tells us, has the marvellous property 
of swallowing up men who fall asleep upon its banks, 
— as the magnet attracts iron. He appears to have 
believed everything that was told him on his travels. A 
certain huntsman informed him that the chamois was 
invulnerable after eating the blue flower of the " Doro- 
nicum " ; and that men might enjoy a similar privilege 
if they partook of the roots of the same plant before 
sunrise. The author gravely assures his readers that 
this story must be untrue, as " there is no such thing as 
'Doronicum' with a blue flower in the Alps." He devotes 
a good deal of attention to the habits of chamois, and 
informs us that this animal, which he calls "rupicapra," 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

is fond of licking porous rocks in order to promote 
digestion. It is a pity that parts of this work have not 
been translated, for it contains some marvellous stories. 
Scheuchzer, however, is chiefly remarkable for his dis- 
covery of Swiss dragons. Not that he ever saw one 
himself, but information as to their habits, appearance, 
and places of resort, was brought to him by unimpeach- 
able witnesses. His work is embellished with many 
drawings of these animals, one of which is reproduced 
here ; but let no one be alarmed. Even Scheuchzer does 
not assert their existence on the Chain of Mont Blanc, 
and if they ever did exist, they have fortunately died 
out. Scheuchzer ascended Mont Pilatus (not quite to 
the summit), but tells us he has nothing to add to the 
description of the mountain given in the monograph of 
Konrad Gesner. He was probably not very fond of 
climbing. "Very few care," he adds, "for this laborious 
kind of pursuit, which is by no means lucrative. It is 
.not every one who can take pleasure in climbing hills 
which reach the clouds." 

His travels were confined chiefly to the Oberland and 
the Engadine, and he appears never to have visited Geneva 
or to have seen Mont Blanc, but he had a keen interest 
in the mountains, and was a true pioneer. Mr. Coolidge 
tells us in his learned and admirable work on " Swiss 
Travel and Swiss Guide Books," that Scheuchzer was 
entitled to be held in honour by all travellers, for whom he 
greatly smoothed the way by his labours, though rather as a 
painstaking collector of facts than as a sound philosopher."^ 

■ " Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide Books," by W. A. B. Coolidge. London : 
Longmans, 1889. 

One of Scheuchzer's Dragons. 

[ To fiuc pas^c 6. 

Legendary and Historical 

Certainly scientific men began to be interested in moun- 
tains and glaciers before the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, and ascents of some importance were made 
and recorded when the eighteenth century was well on 
its way. 

The city of Geneva has been remarkable for three 
hundred years as a school, not of divinity only, but also 
of scientific inquiry. The whole chain of Mont Blanc, 
though at a distance of sixty miles, can be seen and 
studied from the uplands north of the glorious lake, and 
from the beautiful summit of the Saleve. Yet it is a fact 
that none of the inhabitants, in quest of scientific dis- 
covery or of personal adventure, were early attracted 
towards the great white heights, on which they must have 
so often gazed. 

Why did the mountains remain for them so long 
" accursed " ? The surplus waters of the lake swept 
unceasingly through the ancient city in 

" The blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone," 

and were polluted then as now, by the turbid and dirty 
river which came direct from those unknown hills. 
Possibly the colour of the Arve confirmed the super- 
stition so long prevalent, that in consequence of their 
crimes, the people of Chamonix were condemned to 
live amongst eternal snows. The spirit of adventure 
was dormant. The hills remained " Les Montagues 
Maudites," and yet maps of the country were not un- 
known. A fair map of Switzerland is published in 
Scheuchzer's work, and although the mountains are 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

represented by the then conventional string of mole-hills, 
the valley of the Arve is clearly defined, and " Cluse " and 
"Chamrauny" are distinctly marked. I have examined 
with great care the magnificent collection of old Euro- 
pean maps in the British Museum. In one map, pub- 
lished in 1650 by Nicolaus Visscher, the site of Mont 
Blanc is marked " Le Mont Maudit," and the same term 
is used in another, dated 1657. In one by Justinian 
Danckerts, published in 1660, the whole range is de- 
scribed as " Les Glacieres," and the same title is given 
in maps published in 1703, 1715, 1730, and 1740. In a 
map of Switzerland published in 1760 by Abraham 
Rouvier, '* Les Glacieres " extend from Valorsine to 
" Mont Maley," the only peak in the chain to which a 
name is given. Possibly with a single exception to be 
noted later, the map appended to " Nouvelle Description 
des Glacieres," by Bourrit, published in 1787, is the 
first real map to contain the name " Mont Blanc " ; 
but no other mountain in the chain is named. Finally, 
in a map of Switzerland published by Chretien de 
Mechel in 1799, the words Mont Blanc appear on the 
proper site. Nevertheless, the great summit was certainly 
known by its present name, at least at Chamonix and 
Geneva, in the beginning of the last century. 

Although the mountain remained so long " accursed," 
the village of Chamonix was not unknown. We are 
indebted to Mr. Markham Sherwill, who made an ex- 
amination of its archives in 1831, for much valuable 
information.! Sherwill's researches have made it clear 

I " Historical Sketch of the Valley of Cl)amouni,"by Markham Sherwill. Paris, 1833. 

Legendary and Historical 

that Chamonix is a place of great antiquity, that a 
priory was founded in the valley during the reign of 
Pope Urban the Second, probably in the year 1090, 
and that the spot was known only as "The Priory" 
until 1330, when the few cottages that surrounded the 
monastic building assumed the name of Chamonix. 
Certain orders to new-comers, "which all must obey or 
quit the valley in a month," were issued in this year by 
the despotic prior and are still extant. 

In 1443 a Bishop of Geneva made his first visit to that 
extreme corner of his diocese. His name was " Bartho- 
meus," who having visited the Abbot of Sallanches, went 
on foot to Chamonix, where he arrived on the fourth of 
October, 1443. In July, 148 1, another Bishop of Geneva, 
" Jean Louis de Savoie," paid a visit to the Priory, and in 
1520 a new code of laws, both for the Priory and for 
the new settlers in the valley, was ratified by the Abbot of 
the Monastery of Cluses, In 1530 Philippe de Savoie, 
Due de Nemours and Comte de Geneve, authorised a 
free fair to be held twice a year at Chamonix, and all 
persons in going or returning were made free from arrest 
for debt, or misdemeanour. In July, 1606, Frangois de 
Sales, Bishop of Geneva, arrived at Chamonix on foot 
and stayed there several days. He visited the poor and 
sick, and preached to the people on the high road on 
his departure to Sallanches. 

Other bishops of Geneva went to Chamonix in 1649 
and 1650, but no record is left of their journeys. Visitors 
of some sort could not have been infrequent even then, 
for in the last-named year the Prior levied on each in- 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

habitant an annual tax of two sous for the repair of the 
roads. P'or ninety more years Chamonix had little or no 
history, until in 1741 great interest was aroused by the 
famous visit of Pococke and Windham, the first English- 
men who ever made an excursion to " Les Glacieres." It 
is certain that other visitors, actuated by curiosity or love 
of adventure, had preceded Pococke and Windham, 
notably a Prince of Sulzbach (a near relative by marriage 
of Charles Emanuel III., King of Sardinia), who made a 
visit to the glaciers in 1727. But Pococke and Windham 
left behind them an account of their journey, which 
previous explorers did not. Hence old writers erroneously 
attributed to these two Englishmen the discovery of the 
valley. Mrs. Starke, for instance, writing in 1829, tells us 
that " the valley might have been unknown at the present 
period if two English gentlemen had not in the year 1741 
discovered il, and given to modern Europe details respect- 
ing a place which even the natives of Geneva — though 
only eighteen leagues distant — had never heard of." 
Again, Reichard, the author of the " Guide du Voyageur 
en Suisse," writing in 1824, tells us that " it is incredible 
that a valley so interesting and at the foot of the highest 
mountain of the old world should have remained un- 
known " until Pococke and Windham thought of visiting 
it ; even so competent an authority as Dr. Ebel fell into 
the same mistake, and Michel Carrier, who wrote a 
biography of Jacques Balmat in 1854, makes the rash 
statement " that not a traveller had visited the valley of 
Chamonix previous to 1741." He adds "that it was not 
even known at Geneva except as a place exceedingly wild, 


Legendary and Historical 

peopled by beings who were not less so, and surrounded 
by awful mountains, which rendered access to it difficult 
and dangerous." It has been shown that the valley was 
known to a few travellers, to Genevese bishops, and to 
local traders, but no account of it was ever given to the 
world. Pococke and Windham were its first real 

In 1741 William Windham was living in Geneva. He 
was an English gentleman, well known in London as 
" Boxing Windham." One Dr. Pococke, who had been 
travelling in Egypt and the Levant, arrived in the same 
city. Windham asked him to join with him in a 
journey to the glaciers, to which he at once agreed, and 
they took steps to form a party for the expedition. In 
that year Windham wrote a letter to M. Arlaud, a cele- 
brated painter at Geneva, giving an account of his journey 
to the Glacieres, or Ice Alps, in Savoy. " It is really a 
pity," he writes, " that so great a curiosity, and which 
lies so near you, should be so little known ; for though 
Scheuchzer, in his Iter Alpinum, describes the Glacieres 
that are in the Canton of Berne, yet they seem to me by 
his description to be very different from those in Savoy." 
" They were assured," he continues, " that they would 
find no necessaries of life in those parts, so they took 
sumpter-horses laden with provisions, and a tent." 
Windham "provided several mathematical instruments 
to take heights, hoping that Mr. Williamson, an able 
mathematician. Governor to Lord Hadington, would 
have been of the party," but he declined on account 
of the fatigue, and Windham would not take the instru- 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

ments himself, as none of his companions were able to 
use them. I The party consisted of Windham, Lord 
Hadington and his brother the Honourable Mr. Baillie, 
Dr. Pococke, and Messrs. Chetvvynd, Aldworth, Price, and 
Stillingfleet, eight persons in all. They left Geneva on 
the nineteenth of June, attended by live servants. All 
were well armed. After six hours' riding they reached 
Bonneville, where they put up at an inn, "a tolerable 
one for Savoy as to everything but beds." The following 
day they proceeded to Cluses, taking three hours and a 
half on the road, whence riding three hours further " they 
came to St. Martin's bridge, right against Sallanches, 
which is on the other side of the Arve." For some 
reasons not given they did not visit the town, but pre- 
ferred to encamp in a fine meadow in order to refresh 
themselves. Thence they proceeded to Servoz, where 
their horses were picketed all night in the open air, and 
the travellers, finding no beds, obtained some clean straw 
from a barn. The third day they started at dawn. The 
roads were so bad that their horses lost their shoes, 

' Windham was then a young man of twenty-six, and was possessed of attain- 
ments of a high order. He was making a European tour with his tutor, Benjamin 
StilHngfleet, grandson of the celebrated Edward StilHngfleet, Bishop of Worcester. 
When at Rome they made the acquaintance of Mr. Price, Mr. Aldworth, Lord 
Hadington, and Mr. BaiUie, and the friendship thus formed was renewed when 
they all met again at Geneva in 1741. The Rev. William Coxe, Stillingfleet's 
biographer, informs us that the partj' made frequent excursions into Alpine 
valleys, and " in particular visited those icy regions which stretch at the foot of 
Mont Blanc." He also tells us that the small treatise which Windham afterwards 
published "was written chiefly by Mr. Windham and Mr. Price, with the assist- 
ance of Mr. stillingfleet," and that " they gave the first impulse to that curiosity 
which has since led travellers of every nation into the wildest recesses of the 
Alps." — " Life and Works of Benjamin Stillingfleet," by William Coxe ; London, 
181 1, vol. i. p. 80. 


Legendary and Historical 

besides running the risk of tumbling into the Arve, but 
at length they came to a pleasant valley where they had 
their first view of the glaciers. Continuing their journey, 
they reached "Chamouny," "where there is a Priory 
belonging to the Chapter of Salanches." 

They were shown the " ends of the glaciers which reach 
into the valley," but their curiosity being by no means 
satisfied, they inquired whether, by going further up the 
mountain, they could not discover something more worthy 
of their notice. The peasants said yes, but that all 
travellers who had hitherto visited the glaciers had been 
satisfied with what had already been pointed out. 

"The Prior of the place, a good old man," showed 
them much attention, but endeavoured to dissuade them 
from going further ; they, however, would not be denied, 
and at noon on the twenty-second of June succeeded in 
setting out, attended by several peasants, some acting as 
guides and some as porters. Windham points out that 
many maps place the glaciers on the same side of the 
Arve as Chamonix, but this, he rightly adds, is a mistake. 
The ascent was so steep that they sometimes had to use 
their hands " and make use of sticks with sharp irons at 
the end " to support themselves. After sights " terrible 
enough to make most people's heads turn," and scrambling 
for four hours and three-quarters, they reached the summit 
" of the mountain," from whence " they had the pleasure 
of beholding objects of an extraordinary nature." The 
spot reached was, in fact, the Montanvert. The tra- 
vellers all descended on to the ice, "partly falHng and 
partly sliding on their hands and knees." 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Windham gives a very fair description of this well- 
known view. The boiiquetin must then have been 
common on the Mer de Glace, for the guides told him 
that they went in herds of fifteen or sixteen. The party 
saw several chamois and shot at them, but without 
effect, as they were at too great a distance. Windham 
records one point of considerable interest. The guides 
told him that in the time of their fathers the glacier was 
but small, and that there was even a passage into the 
Valley of Aosta, which could be reached in six hours, but 
that the glacier had much increased and was continually 
increasing, and the passage was then quite stopped up. 
Having remained on the ice for half an hour, they drank, 
like true Englishmen, to the health of Admiral Vernon 
and success to the British arms, and having regained the 
summit (the Montanvert), they descended to Chamonix, 
" to the great astonishment of all the people of the place 
and even of our guides, who owned to us they thought 
we should not have gone through with our undertaking." 

On the twenty-third they departed, and resting at 
Sallanches, arrived the following day at Bonneville. 
Here they ascended the " Maule " and had a delightful 
view : on one side Geneva, the Lake, and the adjacent 
parts ; ** on the other, high mountains covered with snow, 
which rise round in the form of an amphitheatre and make 
a most picturesque prospect." Descending the " Maule," 
they slept at Annecy, and the next day returned to 

It was an interesting expedition. Too much must not 
be made of the arms they carried in their hands. Pro- 


Legendary and Historical 

bably any party travelling in 1741 in Savoy or elsewhere 
would have taken similar precautions, and, as Windham 
remarks, " although we met with nothing which had the 
appearance of danger, nevertheless I would recommend 
going well armed ; 'tis an easy precaution, and on certain 
occasions very useful — one is never the worse for it, and 
oftentimes it helps a man out of a scrape." They went 
out expecting to find a wild and barbarous people. They 
found, in fact, a peaceable village presided over by a 
good old Prior, and a population industrious and honest, 
tilling their fields and storing honey from their bees. 

There is one point about Windham's narrative that is 
somewhat singular. It is clear that he had a fine view of 
the mountains from the Mole, but he does not say one 
word about Mont Blanc. It is quite possible that during 
his short stay at Chamonix he never saw it — if he did see 
it, he would surely have recorded the fact. It was very 
early in the season, and there was much snow on the road 
to the Montanvert. Probably the weather was cloudy, 
and Windham advises others who might be making a 
similar journey to set out in the middle of August. 

Windham's visit and the circulation of his letter to M. 
Arlaud naturally attracted considerable attention. One 
Peter Martel, a Swiss engineer, at once determined to 
follow his example. Subsequently he wrote a letter to 
Windham detailing the results of a visit to Chamonix 
which he made in 1742. His party consisted of a gold- 
smith well skilled in minerals, an apothecary who was 
a good chemist and botanist, and MM. Martin and 
Girod. Laden with various scientific instruments, they 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

left Geneva on the twentieth of August, halted at Bonne- 
ville and again at Cluses, and reached Sallanches in the 
evening. The following day they passed St. Gervais and 
Servoz, one of their horses losing a shoe, '' and almost all 
his hoof," and entered the Valley of Chamonix, " having 
on our left the Arve, and on our right a fine hill which 
reaches as far southward as the mountain called Mont 
Blanc." This I believe to be the first occasion on which 
the name of the Great Mountain is ever mentioned in any 
existing publication. It will be observed that Martel's 
party reached Chamonix in two days from Geneva. On 
the morning of the third day they employed seven men 
to assist them in climbing and in carrying provisions. 
They ascended " the Mountain," that is, the Montanvert, 
and looking down into the ice valley, " were struck with 
astonishment at so extraordinary a sight." ^ 

Martel made a plan of the glaciers, being aided by a 
guide " who was a very intelligent person, not only 
knowing the country, but having also assisted in the 
last survey which the King of Sardinia had caused to 
be made of Savoy." They regained the Priory at seven 
in the evening. The following morning Martel's com- 
panions were anxious to return, but Martel " took with 
his semicircle the height of Mont Blanc by two different 
operations, which corresponded exactly." 

The weather was fine and dry, and Martel describes 

I In the j'ear 1779 an Englishman of the name of Blair erected a wooden hut 
on the Montanvert for the convenience of travellers, and in the year 1795 
M. Desportes erected at his own expense an improved refuge of stone, of which 
a picture is given. The vignette on the title-page shows the position of these 
two refuges. 


The " Desportcs " Refuge on the Montanvert. 

[To face piv^c l6. 

Legendary and Historical 

many of the peaks. " 'Tis this point of Mont Blanc," he 
says, '' which is supposed to be the highest in all the 
Glacieres, and perhaps of all the Alps. Many persons of 
the country who have travelled assured me that they had 
seen it from Dijon, and others from Langres, which is 
135 miles distance." Martel speaks well of the Chamo- 
niards. He says : " They are a very good sort of people, 
living together in great harmony ; they are robust, live to 
a great age, and have very few beggars among them. 
Their honey is white, resembling very much that of 
Narbonne for colour, but not for taste. The sheep are 
left without any one to watch them, there being in this 
valley no beast of prey, though bears, wolves, and foxes 
abound in the country all about." Martel returned to 
Geneva on the twenty-sixth of August "without any 
other regret than not having stayed longer at Chamouny 
to have considered the beauties of the places there- 

" Suffer me, sir," he concludes, " to address this 
account of our voyage to you, as the person to whom 
of right it belongs ; you marked us out a way which 
was easy to follow by the help of your directions." 

They were both true pioneers — Windham from love of 
adventure, and Martel from love of science. Four plates 
are added to Martel's letter. There is a picture of the 
view from the Montanvert, quite unlike anything in 
nature ; a view from the Priory, which no one can now 
identify ; good drawings of the bouquetin, the chamois, 
and the marmot ; and a map of the course of the Arve 
and of the glaciers and high mountains of Chamonix, 

17 C 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

which will be found reproduced in the Appendix, and 
which is a specimen of the cartography of a hundred 
and sixty years ago. 

The two letters — the one from Windham to Arlaud, 
and the other from Martel to Windham — were published 
together in 1744, " as laid before the Royal Society." ^ 

The book was sold for the merest trifle, but is now one 
of the rarest in Alpine bibliography. The effect of its 
publication, though not immediate, was far-reaching. 
The attention of the scientific world was drawn to the 
Valley of Chamonix and the wonders that it contained. 
Horace Benedict de Saussure was 3^et in his cradle, but 
the invasion had begun. 

' " An Account of the Glacieres or Ice Alps in Savoy. London : printed for 
Peter Martel, 1744, price is. 6d." 

Note. — This volume is so uncommon and so extremely interesting that a jac- 
siiiiik of it is given in the Appendix. I have stated in the text that three languages 
are spoken on the base of the chain of Mont Blanc Of course on the Valais or 
Swiss side the language is French as far as Sion, but I have ascertained that many 
German-spealcing families live in and near to Martigny. 


William Wiiulliani. 

ITo /(ICC piigc 1 8. 



WINDHAM and Saussure were, in a sense, contem- 
poraries. It was in 1741, as we have seen, that 
the memorable journey of Pococke and Windham to the 
glaciers of Chamonix was planned. On the seventeenth 
of February in the preceding year Saussure was born at 
Geneva. His father was Nicolas de Saussure, a Genevese, 
and his uncle, for whom he had a great regard, was M. 
Charles Bonnet, a well-known savant of the same city. 
The father was an eminent agriculturist, and greatly 
interested in science. He occupied a house and farm 
at Conches, near Geneva, was a member of the Council 
of the "Two Hundred," and took an active part in 
public affairs. His attention was mainly directed to the 
growth and diseases of grain and farm produce. His 
work on " Fecundity in Plants and Fertility in the 
Earth," published in 1782, attracted considerable atten- 
tion. His son's mind was early impressed by scientific 
subjects. His youth was passed at the farm, and his rare 
love of nature developed an unusual capacity for obser- 



The Annals of Mont Blanc 

vation. He worked with his uncle on botanical subjects, 
and made the acquaintance of Haller, who bore willing 
testimony to his exceptional powers. He received an 
excellent training at the Academy at Geneva, wlfere he 
was sent, and his studious habits enabled him to make 
rapid progress. Shortly after attaining his majority he 
was offered the post of Professor of Natural Philosophy, 
and rapidly justified his election to the chair, which he 
occupied for twenty-five years. He specially devoted 
himself to geology and physical geography. 

He was a teacher of logic and physics, and founded 
the Society of Arts of Geneva in 1772. He elaborated 
a system of education for his native city, which, however, 
was then deemed of too radical a nature for adoption. In 
due course he became like his father, one of the Council 
of the "Two Hundred," and later of the National 
Assembly. He was also a member of most of the 
European scientific societies, and carefully studied 
meteorology and the temperatures of rivers, lakes, and 
glaciers, having himself invented all kinds of scientific 
instruments. His great work on Alpine physiography, 
"Voyages dans les Alpes," is the finest of the Alpine 
classics. His portrait was twice painted, the first by 
Juehl, a Swedish painter, when Saussure was young and 
in the prime of his mountaineering career. The best- 
known portrait is, hov^ever, by St. Ours, and was painted 
in later years. He was something more than a naturalist, 
and, as will be seen below, he was a keen observer of 
human nature. His life was written by Senebier, by 
Cuvier, and by I\I. de Candolle ; he was a man of rare 


Horace Benedict de Saiissure 

intellectual endowment, and one for whom the mountains 
had an irresistible fascination. His life was spent not 
in work only, but the best kind of work. All the leading 
lights of the time were proud of his intimacy or even of 
his acquaintance. He was visited by the Emperor Joseph 
the Second in 1777, and by Goethe in 1779. He suffered 
greatly from the effects of the French Revolution, and 
having invested nearly all his fortune in French funds 
lost almost everything. A paragraph appeared in a 
French journal in 1795 to the effect that he was reduced 
to want ; and it is not generally known that an English 
nobleman, Lord Bristol (whose brother, General Hervey, 
was an intimate friend), offered in the most delicate 
manner not only to settle an annuity upon him, but to 
allow him to share his home, and to afford him every 
opportunity of pursuing his researches in Natural History. 
The offer was declined as gracefully as it was made. " It 
is true," he replied, " that nothing is left to me, but my 
wife has still sufficient for the needs of my family and 
myself ; but your kind offer, nevertheless, will always 
remain engraven upon my heart." ' There is little doubt 
that his arduous labours shortened his life ; he died on 
the twenty-second of January, 1799, at the comparatively 
early age of fifty-nine years, and his funeral was marked 
by exceptional demonstrations of honour.^ But we are 
chiefly concerned with him in his capacity as an early 
explorer and passionate admirer of Mont Blanc. 

As a boy he had a keen love of the mountains. He 

' Rei'iie Suisse, 1S83. Article by Ernest Naville. 
' See " Encyclopedia Britannica," vol. xxi. p. 323. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

climbed all the hills about Geneva, and knew the form of 
the great white mountain by heart. Later he went to 
live in a charming country-house called Creux de Gen- 
thod, about four miles from Geneva, on the northern 
shores of the Lake, where his grandson still resides. It 
was there that he composed his great work ; and his 
" Discours preliminaire," which bears date the twenty- 
eighth of November, 1779, is worthy of the most attentive 
perusal. He tells us that " Humanity in the Alps is not 
less interesting than physical nature. Though man is at 
bottom everywhere the same, plaything of the same 
passions, stirred by the same needs, still it is only in the 
Alps, if anywhere in Europe, that one may hope to find 
men civilised enough not to be savage, and yet natural 
enough not to be corrupt. It is only in those elevated 
valleys where there are no landlords, no men of wealth, 
no throng of foreigners. Those who have only seen the 
peasant in the neighbourhood of towns have no idea of 
the true man of Nature. There he has a master, he is 
obliged to render unpleasing services, he is crushed by 
the disdain of the great, corrupted and at the same time 
despised by degraded menials, so that he becomes as 
abject as those who corrupt him. The Alpine peasant, 
seeing only his equals, forgets that there exist men more 
powerful than himself ; his soul is ennobled and elevated ; 
the services that he renders, the hospitality he offers, have 
no servile or mercenary taint ; he exhibits that noble 
pride which is the companion and stay of all other 
virtues. How often have I, arriving at nightfall in some 
lonely hamlet where there was no sort of inn, knocked 


Horace Benedict de Saussure 

at the door of some cottage, and there been received, 
after answering a question or two about my purpose, 
with a hospitahty dignified, cordial, and disinterested, 
such as it would be hard to find elsewhere. And will 
you believe that in these lonely wilds I have found true 
thinkers, men who, by the mere strength of natural 
reason, have risen far above the superstitions which the 
lower classes in towns so greedily swallow. 

'' From my childhood the mountains powerfully at- 
tracted me. I still remember the thrill which went 
through me when I first touched the summit of the 
Saleve and could feast on the views stretched out before 
me. At the age of eighteen I had more than once ex- 
plored the mountains nearest to Geneva. The next year 
I spent fifteen days in one of the highest chalets on the 
Jura that I might explore the Dole and the neighbouring 
mountains, and the same year I made my first ascent of 
the Mole. My curiosity and ardour, however, were but 
imperfectly satisfied by these moderate exploits. I longed 
to see at close quarters the great Alps which appeared in 
such majesty from the heights I had attained. 

" In 1760 I went alone and on foot to visit the glaciers 
of Chamonix, which were then rarely frequented, and 
W'Cre considered difficult and dangerous of approach. 
I returned the following year, and since then have let no 
year pass without serious expeditions, even long journeys 
in pursuit of mountain study. During this time I crossed 
the main chain of the Alps fourteen times by eight 
different routes, besides making sixteen excursions into 
the centre of the chain. I visited the Jura, the Vosges, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

and the mountains of Switzerland, of part of Germany, 
of England, Italy and Sicily. I have explored the 
extinct volcanoes of Auvergne and of Vivarais, and the 
mountains of Forez, of Danphin6 and of Burgundy. 
I have made all these journeys with a miner's hammer 
in my hand, merely for the purpose of studying natural 
history, climbing all accessible sum.mits which seemed 
to promise interesting observations, and always carrying 
off specimens from the mines and mountains, especially 
those which threw any light on physical theories, in 
order to examine them at my leisure. I even made a 
rigid rule to take notes on the spot, and to enlarge 
and transcribe them during the following twenty-four 
hours." I 

Such was the kind of man who was mainly responsible 
for the first conquest of Mont Blanc. 

Another native of Geneva, of far humbler origin and 
no scientiiic pretensions, shares with Saussure the credit 
of having drawn the attention of Europe to Mont Blanc. 
He was Marc Theodore Bourrit. He was something of 
an artist and a great deal of an enthusiast. Saussure 
employed him to illustrate his great work and gave him 
his best title to fame. He was a prolific author on his 
own account, and his well-known "Nouvelle Description 
des Glacieres," profusely illustrated from his own drawings, 
and dedicated by permission to Louis the Sixteenth, first 
appeared in 1781. A third edition, containing an account 
of his subsequent travels, was published in 1787. 

I "Voyages dans les Alpes," 1787-1796, 8vo, Geneve and Xeuchatel ; 1796- 
1804, 4to, Neuchatel. 


Saussure, from a picture by Juehl. 

[ To face page 24. 

Marc Theodore Bourrit 

He certainly would not now be deemed a competent 
mountaineer, and although he made several attempts, 
never succeeded in reaching the summit of the great 
mountain. His drawings of mountain scenery, though 
somewhat rough, are fairly accurate. His style is stilted 
and verbose, and is altogether deficient in humour. On 
one occasion he had arranged to rest for a night at the 
" dreadful village " of Contamines, in a house containing 
but one small chamber. He was agreeably surprised at 
meeting a young and beautiful girl from Chambery, who, 
though unappalled by the wildness of the scenery, was 
greatly frightened at the sight of M. Bourrit, and although 
he was a Precentor of the Cathedral of Geneva, she 
promptly ran off in great alarm. " I was offended at her 
fears," he says. " I ran after her, and implored her to 
form a more favourable idea of us — and had the good 
fortune to induce her to listen to me. We took supper 
together, and I placed at her disposal the accommodation 
which had been reserved for me, and sought another 
place of repose." ^ 

Saussure and Bourrit were the real pioneers who 
created a mountaineering interest in Mont Blanc. But 
for them, its conquest would have been indefinitely 

Saussure visited Chamonix in 1760 and 1761, and on 
both occasions offered a large reward to any one who 
could find a way to the summit of the mountain.^ 
Indeed, he went even further, for he offered to pay those 

» '• Nouvelle Description des Glacieres," 1787, vol. i. p. 335. 
» "Voyages dans les Alpes," 1786, vol. iv. p. 389. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

whose attempts might prove unsuccessful. But nothing 
came of these offers. The peasants of Chamonix hunted 
chamois and searched for crystals, but were not moun- 
taineers in the true sense, for they had no love of the 
mountains for their own sake ; who were they, that they 
should attempt an expedition so long believed impos- 
sible ? But yet there were some wlio were not deficient 
in the spirit of adventure. One Pierre Simond made two 
desultory attempts, one on the east side, by the Glacier 
du Geant, and one by the Glacier des Bossons, but he 
returned with no hope of success. 

It was not unnatural that a first attempt should have 
been made from the Glacier du Geant, although the route 
by the Montague de la Cote and the Glacier des Bossons 
was apparently the easier of the two. It is certain that this 
part of the mountain was very imperfectly known, whereas 
the Mer de Glace and part of the Glacier du Geant 
were constantly traversed by all the Chamonix hunters. 
The first object of every casual visitor was to cross, 
or at least to see the Mer de Glace. Chamois hunters 
and crystal finders were well acquainted with it, and with 
its affluents, and the Couvercle and the Jardin were well 
known. From the latter the whole of the Glacier du 
Geant can be seen apparently (but not really) stretching 
to the summit of the mountain on its eastern side. 
Moreover, tradition said that a pass existed from the Mer 
de Giace into Italy — a pass of great height, on the very 
shoulder of Mont Blanc. It was reasonable enough, 
therefore, that Pierre Simond should have explored in 
this direction, and that Jacques Balraat should himself 


Early Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

make one of his early attempts by this route. Probably 
both explorers were stopped by the great ice ridge which 
stretches from Mont Blanc to the Aiguille du Midi. The 
bare facts only of Pierre Simond's attempts in 1762 have 
been recorded.^ 

Thirteen vears elapsed before any further efforts were 
made. Many persons had visited the valley in the interval, 
and made various excursions on the glaciers. The great 
mountain was becoming better and better known. 
Saussure's offer being still open, was no one bold enough, 
or adventurous enough, to try for the promised reward ? 

In 1775 four Chamonix peasants made a determined 
effort by the Montague de la Cote. This well-known 
ridge separates the glaciers of Bossons and Taconnay, 
and the highest point of it, about 8,500 feet above sea 
level, appears from the valley, almost to reach the rocks 
of the Grands Mulcts. As a matter of fact, it takes 
nearly three hours to climb from the one point to the 
other. Probably in the past the rocks of the Montague 
de la Cote extended in one unbroken line as far as 
the Grands Mulcts and the Aiguille Pitschner. An 
exquisite drawing of this beautiful ridge appears in the 
fourth volume of Mr. Ruskin's " Modern Painters," and 
is there described as the Crest of la Cote. It was by 
this route that most of the early attempts were made, and 
by which the mountain was ultimately climbed. The 
pioneers determined to take the Montague de la Cote as 
a starting-point. Saussure tells us that it abuts upon the 
ice and the snow, which stretch without interruption to 

' Auldjo, •' Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc," 1828, p. 30S. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

the summit of Mont Blanc, and that the first obstacles 
being once surmounted, there remains only the length of 
the route and the difficulty of making the ascent and the 
descent in one day. " I say in one day," he adds, 
"because the country-folk believe that it is impossible 
to pass the night amongst the snows." ^ Up to this time 
every one had been discouraged, but strangers hearing 
of Saussure and his offers were naturally interested. 
Amidst some excitement in the valley, the four would-be 
discoverers started on their journey. They were Michel 
Paccard, Francois Paccard, Victor Tissay, and a young 
adventurer described by M. Bourrit as "the son of the 
respectable Couteran," a widow who kept an inn in the 

The Rev. William Coxe, in his most interesting "Travels 
in Switzerland," published in 1789,3 gives the name of 
Marie Couttet as one of the three guides, but M. Bourrit, 
who received his information from young Couteran him- 
self, was probably the better informed. 

At eleven o'clock at night, on the thirteenth of July, 
they started from the Priory, hoping to be the first to 
enjoy the view from the summit. In two hours and a 
half the party arrived at the foot of the glacier of Tacon- 
nay, and finding a suitable sleeping-place — no doubt 
on the base of the Montagne de la Cote — and being 
somewhat fatigued, rested until morning. Rising at 
break of day, and in perfect weather, they climbed the 

■ " Voyages dans les Alpes," 1786, vol. iv. p. 390. 

* Bourrit, " Nouvelle Description des Glacieres," 1787, vol. i. p. 159. 

3 Vol. ii. p. 2. 


Early Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

ridge, notwithstanding " the perpendicular rocks and the 
abysses which the eye dare not gaze upon." As a matter 
of fact, the route thus far contains at the present day no 
particle of difficulty or danger. They heard the shrill 
cries of the marmots, and saw "a quantity of chamois 
rushing pell-mell amongst the sheep and the goats." 
Alas for the progress of civilisation, Chamonix is not now 
so highly favoured ! They then entered upon the great 
ice-field, from which flow the glaciers of Bossons and 
Taconnay, and proceeded higher and higher towards the 
Grand Plateau. On their left was a high rock, which 
they compared, not inaptly, to one of the pyramids of 
Egypt. This was the Grands Mulcts, or possibly the 
Aiguille Pitschner, almost the culminating point of 
the Grands Mulcts ridge, in the centre of the great ice- 
field. Couteran and Tissay determined to reach it, not- 
withstanding the reiterated warnings of the brothers 
Paccard, who thought the peril too great. The two 
gained these rocks with as much pleasure, Couteran 
observed, as a mariner dry land after a long time afloat. 
After finding some crystals they rejoined their com- 
panions, who were not far from the summit of the rock, 
and proceeded upwards. They were sufficiently high to 
look over the Brevent, and the chain of the Aiguilles 
Rouges — which bounds the Valley of Chamonix on the 
north. They saw the summit of the Buet and the Lake 
of Geneva, which was compared to a piece of linen lying 
in a field. The snow became extremely steep when they 
reached two ice-walls of prodigious height, flanked by 
symmetrical towers and crevasses, like the loopholes of 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

an ancient fortress." These difficulties proved too great 
for the exploring party, but they were not all ; the heat 
was so great that they covered their hats with snow to 
avoid sunstroke, and a lassitude overcame them which 
could not be conquered "without the aid of liquor." 
The summit appeared to be close — they thought about 
the distance of a league ; a very palpable mistake. 
Clouds drifted over the mountain, and soon enveloped 
them and forced a hasty retreat, the fear of being lost 
giving a great impetus to their descent. The Priory was 
regained at ten at night, when they were able to tranquil- 
lise their friends, who feared that after twenty-two hours' 
absence they were entombed in the snows of Mont 

So ended the first real attempt. Had they slept on the 
summit instead of at the base of the Montague de la 
Cote, and the weather been fine, they might have suc- 
ceeded. It was a creditable performance, but possibly 
the stimulants which they called in aid served only to 
retard. But we must be gentle with the pioneers, and 
never forget that they were in a new world, and that they 
had the dread of the unknown before them, as well as its 
charm. While all suffered more or less from their exer- 
tions, there was at least the satisfaction of knowing that 
they had been nearer the summit than any previous 

It is not easy to fix the exact point reached, but Sir 
George Shuckburgh, who visited Chamonix the month 
following the expedition and had every opportunity of 
talking with the explorers, and who had taken the height 


Early Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

of Mont Blanc from the summit of the Mole, fixed it at 
about 13,000 feel, but this was clearly an error. The 
point gained was probably about midway between the 
Grands Mulcts and the Grand Plateau. 

The Montagne de la Cote is now rarely visited, but 
the ridge is the home of rare and beautiful ferns and 
flowers, and the view from its summit is grand in the 
extreme. Glaciers flow to the right and to the left, the 
great ice-field stretches to the Grands Mulcts, which seems 
to be distant but a " stone's throw," while the mighty 
dome of Mont Blanc is exactly in front with its attendant 
Aiguilles from the Verte on the one side, to the Goiiter 
on the other. 

Eight years passed before a second attempt was made. 
In 1783 three other guides of Chamonix, Jean Marie 
Couttet, Lombard Meunier, and Joseph Carrier, ti'ied 
again by the same route, passing the night on the summit 
of the Montagne de la Cote, and early on the following 
morning entered on the great ice-field and went in the 
direction of the Grand Plateau. They attained a con- 
siderable elevation, but whether or not as high as their 
immediate predecessors is not known. One of them, said 
to have been the most hardy and robust of the party, was 
suddenly seized with such an " exposition of sleep " that 
further progress was impossible. He implored his 
companions to continue the journey without him, but 
they feared to leave him sleeping on the snow ; so the 
enterprise was given up and the party returned to Cha- 
monix. The eminent author of the "Voyages dans les 
Alpes " describes this incident with a naivete which is 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

perfectly charming. This desire to sleep, he says, 
is produced by the rarity of the air. Now low pressures 
produce very remarkable results, but an insurmountable 
desire to sleep is certainly not one of them. It would 
perhaps be more profitable to inquire whether the " most 
hardy and robust of the party " had not sought to sustain 
his faltering steps by the too frequent use of that supposed 
remedy to which his predecessors admit that they had 
recourse — a remedy al\va3^s useless, and generally worse 
than the disease — and which at least in these days is 
known to produce that insurmountable desire for sleep 
which the great Saussure attributed to the rarity of the 
air ! It was after this expedition that Lombard Meunier 
uttered the sentiments which have since become historical. 
He said, " It is of no use to take any provisions for the 
journey ; all that is wanted is an umbrella and a scent 
bottle " — a statement which had a great effect upon 
Saussure, and led him to believe that the ascent of Mont 
Blanc was more hopeless and impracticable than ever. 

About this time the village doctor of Chamonix was 
Michel Gabriel Paccard, who was born in 1757 and 
was then just twenty-six years of age.^ He was reported 
to be a good mountaineer, and certainly had some 
scientific attainments, for he was a corresponding member 
of the Academy of Turin.^ He had, moreover, one 

' Note. — 1 am fortunately able to present to my readt-rs a likeness of Dr. Paccard 
It was taken when he was an old man, and is reproduced from a picture by an 
unknown painter, now belonging to M. J. P. Cachat, of Chamoni.K, who was a 
great-grandson of the Doctor. 

' Leschevin, " Voyage ii Geneve et dans la Vallee de Chamouni, i8ij, Paris, 
P- 245- 


Michel Gabriel Paccard. 

[To face page 32. 

Early Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

cardinal virtue ; being greatly interested in the attempts 
on Mont Blanc, he was in the habit of recording the 
various excursions as they took place, keeping a book, in 
his own handwriting, of particulars of the early expedi- 
tions, and carrying it on down to 1825, where he records 
the ascent made by Clark and Sherwill. In some of 
the expeditions, as we shall see, he took an active part. 
The Doctor, when not writing from personal knowledge, 
manifestly had access to the best sources of information, 
for he was not only a pioneer himself, but he lived 
amongst them. Having felt for years that sufficient 
justice has not been done to the memory of Dr. Paccard, 
I endeavoured in the year 1896 to trace out his descen- 

The Doctor left two children, a son named Ambroise 
and a daughter named Josephine. The daughter married 
Julien Devouassoud, one of the guides who survived the 
catastrophe of 1820 of which we shall hear. The son, 
Ambroise, a doctor like his father, left a daughter named 
Marie Caroline, who married Jean Michel Balmat, of 
Chamonix, who had a son named Adolphe Balmat (now 
one of the Chamonix guides), and who is, therefore, 
great-grandson of Michel Gabriel Paccard. 

This precious volume was in Balmat's possession, and 
was considered by the members of his family to be a great 
treasure. He has courteously placed it at my disposal. 
It is not only extremely interesting as a specimen of 
mountaineering archajology, but it adds greatly to our 
knowledge, confirming as it does contemporary accounts, 
and giving dates and names not previously recorded. 

33 ^ 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

The second attempt on Mont Blanc which I have 
already narrated, is thus described in Dr. Paccard's 
diary : — 

" Second attempt on Mont Blanc by the Montagne de 
la Cote (see the first in the work of M. Bourrit). July 12, 
1783. ' Grand Joras ' (a nickname for Lombard Meunier), 
Joseph Carrier, and Marie Couttet started for Mont 
Blanc. They slept on the Montagne de la Cote, had a 
good crossing of the Glacier des Bossons, but they found 
the rocks difficult and rotten. They went up the snow 
arch which covers the first rocks at the foot of the little 
or second Mont Blanc, where Marie Couttet was taken 
ill. As they were exposed to the sun, about eight or nine 
o'clock they came down again. They suffered a good 
deal and got blistered whilst going up. The snow was 
hard, but softened about noon when they were coming 
down. They reached the Montagne de la Cote and had 
some sleep." 

Many quotations will be made from this interesting 
manuscript, which I am informed no person out of the 
family — certainly no person interested in the story of 
Mont Blanc — has ever previously perused. 

In the same year the enthusiastic, but always unfor- 
tunate, M. Bourrit followed in the same tracks. He, too, 
slept on the summit of the Montagne de la Cote, but when 
he thought that he was on the point of success a sudden 
storm drove him back. Poor Bourrit always derived 
some consolation even from his misfortunes. At five in 
the morning he was grappling with the snow and ice. 
" He was surrounded by horrible crevasses and great 


Early Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

frozen cliffs." His companions, whose names other than 
that of Dr. Paccard he does not give, did their best to 
find a way for him, but without success — they were 
enveloped in a thick, black veil ; rain followed, but the 
bad weather, he says, " was succeeded by a ravishing 
view." Above the clouds they saw Mont Blanc suspended 
in the air like a shining light, and the great Aiguilles 
appearing above the tempest, brilliant and beautiful. 
" Such were the magnificent scenes which compensated 
us for not having attained the summit of Mont Blanc." ^ 

This excursion can scarcely be included amongst the 
serious attempts to gain the summit, as bad weather set in 
before any real effort was made. It appears that the 
expedition took place on the fifteenth of September, 
1783. Dr. Paccard was one of the party, and the following 
is his account, which, it will be observed, does not quite 
coincide with that of Bourrit : 

"I started with M. Bourrit, the miller Marie, and Jean 
Claude Couttet ; we went and slept at La Tournelle, but 
arrived only at the glacier, which was much crevassed. 
Mont Blanc was covered with clouds, and M. Bourrit 
did not dare to go on the ice." 

Saussure declared that from information which he had 
received from all those who had tried the mountain from 
the Valley of Chamonix, he looked upon success as 
wholly impossible, and that all sensible persons in the 
village were of the same opinion. 

' Bourrit, " Xouvelle Description des Glacieres," 17S7, vol. i. p. 167. 




^"^HE mountain had now been unsuccessfully attempted 
from two sides. Bourrit, who, according to 
Saussure, had taken still greater interest in its conquest 
than himself, now proposed to try it from a third. He 
had heard that two chamois hunters from the neigh- 
bourhood of St. Gervais had attained a great elevation on 
the ridge which stretches from the Aiguille to the Dome 
du Gouter, and he made his arrangements accordingly. 

But, before describing this particular expedition, we 
must again have recourse to the story of Dr. Paccard. 
It has always been thought that Bourrit was the first to 
suggest the ascent from the St. Gervais or western side. 
But it is not so, as Dr. Paccard's manuscript will show. 

" Journey by the Gouter to Mont Blanc with ' Henri.' 
On the ninth of September, 1784, we started at 3 p.m. 
for Bionnassay, which we reached half an hour after 
night had set in by Vausa (Col de Voza). We had 
supper, having to wait for Pierre Perroux' son, who led 
us to Jean Baptiste, son of Joseph Jaquet at Villette. 
They took us to the Grua, to Guillaume Jaquet known as 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

the 'Malin' (crafty), who was on the Miage Mountain, 
and although it was past eleven p.m. we started to go up. 
My guide, Henri Pornet, fell ill, owing probably to 
fatigue and the brandy he had taken, so we did not 
arrive until three a.m. On crossing the Bionnassay 
stream, I broke my barometer, and Joseph Jaquet de 
Villette gave me his. ... It took us three hours full to 
get up from the flat at the foot of the Bionnassay glacier. 
The rock is rotten, and more difficult to climb than it 
appears. . . . We went up by Pierre Ronde, the Roc 
Rosset, and all along the side of the glacier over the 
snow . . . and reached at night a small level place close 
to the glacier of Bionnassay, where Henri was waiting. 
We crossed without crampons by a steep slope, and 
arrived at Chamonix at three o'clock. I again broke the 

This statement proves beyond all reasonable doubt 
that Dr. Paccard and not M. Bourrit first prospected from 
the west side. 

Bourrit then started for St. Gervais. What is now 
known as the St. Gervais route commences at that 
village and proceeds, by way of the hamlet of Bionnassay 
and the right bank of the glacier of that name, to the 
foot of the Aiguille du Gouter. Bourrit had WTitten to 
Lombard Meunier and to Marie Couttet to meet him 
at St. Gervais, and had also engaged the two experi- 
enced local hunters on whose knowledge and services 
he greatly relied. One Maxime of Sallanches also 
accompanied him, a willing and honest man, whose 
mountaineering experience was, however, limited to 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

conducting strangers along the mule-path to Cha- 

This party of six started from St. Gervais on the night 
of the sixteenth of September. After stopping for 
refreshment in the upper part of the valley of Bionnassay, 
they resumed their march at midnight aided by the light 
of a torch, a plan not without its advantages, as Bourrit 
says "one does not see the precipices on the line of 
route, and the journey seems shorter than by day." They 
walked four and a half leagues admiring the purity of the 
sky and the countless stars, but a cold wind began to 
blow which troubled them a good deal. At half-past five 
in the morning they came to the foot of a wall " which 
looked like the last rampart of Mont Blanc" — on their 
right was the glacier of Bionnassay. Bourrit stopping to 
put on his crampons and some warm clothes, Marie 
Couttet and Frangois Cuidet went on climbing without 
his knowledge, and were soon lost to view. 

Some time later he saw them at the end of the glacier, 
a spectacle, he says, which filled him with admiration, 
though the two guides were doing a little climbing on 
their own account. The cold became so bitter and 
penetrating that Bourrit and the three remaining men 
were unable to proceed. First Maxime of Sallanches, 
and then Bourrit himself, became ill. To add to their 
troubles, the two guides in front carried all the wine of 
the party ! Hence there was nothing to do but to aban- 
don the enterprise. Meantime the two leaders had been 
climbing up the rocks of the Aiguille du Gouter, and 
Bourrit had the melancholy pleasure of seeing them 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

arrive on that summit and disappear towards the sky. 
The point where Bourrit stopped was no doubt the Tete 
Rousse, a headland of steep rocks, about 10,000 feet above 
the sea, which stretches nearly to the base of the Aiguille 
du Gouter, and divides the Glacier de la Griaz from that 
of Bionnassay. He consoled himself as usual with the 
beauty of the scenery, and with the thought how far they 
were above Chamonix. But, as M. Durier writes, the 
imagination of Bourrit was always two or three thousand 
metres higher than his body. He descended to the 
chalets at the foot of the glacier, a little anxious about his 
advanced guard, but not seriously so, as it would appear, 
for he at once went to sleep . 

The two men returned at eleven o'clock, aroused him 
from his slumbers, and startled him with the information 
that, "Thanks to God, they had returned from Mont 
Blanc without accident." 

They spoke, of course, in general terms, not having 
been on the summit of the mountain, or indeed near it, 
but they had made an important discovery. They told 
Bourrit that from the time when he lost sight of them 
they continued climbing along the snows for four hours 
and a half, and reached the Dome du Gouter, the snows 
from which descended towards the Allee Blanche ; that 
from this great elevation all the Alps were at their feet, 
and instead of feeling cold they were as in a furnace. 
The snow was in good order, but they suffered from the 
rarity of the air. They then proceeded in the direction 
of the Bosses du Dromadaire, whence they might have 
climbed Mont Blanc if the sun, which was then setting, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

had permitted. At this point it seemed better to return. 
They had, in fact, gained the rock ridge between the 
Dome and the Bosses on which the Vallot Refuge now 
stands, a height exceeding 14,300 feet, the highest point 
yet attained, but still some 1,450 feet below the summit. 

Marie Couttet told Coxe that he passed the middle 
Dome and walked along the ridge between it and the 
summit as far as some high rocks which from Chamonix 
looked like small points rising out of the snow ; so that 
there can be no doubt as to the real point gained.^ 

Such is Bourrit's account.^ To what extent is the 
record verified by Dr. Paccard ? 

"On September fifteenth, 1784, Le Grand Joras (Lom- 
bard Meunier) and Marie Couttet started to join M. 
Bourrit at the Grua. His other guides were Frangois 
Gervaix, Cuignet or Cuidet, from La Grua, and another, 
having with him Maxime and Francois of Sallanches. 
They had supplied themselves with food from Chamonix 
and Sallanches, and went to sleep on the sixteenth at the 
highest huts near the Bionnassay glacier, and on the left 
bank of the stream. They crossed it at 1.30 a.m. by the 
light of a candle carried in a paper bag, and went up to 
the foot of Pierre Ronde, where a fire was lighted, and 
there waited for day. At daw-n Marie Couttet and Fran- 
9ois Gervaix separated from the rest, and turning to the 
left in the direction of Chamonix, went on the arete 
behind the one seen from our halting place. They then 
crossed a snow couloir, and went up the next following 

' "Travels in Switzerland," William Coxe, 1789, vol. ii. p. 13. 

== Bourrit, " Nouvelle Description des Glacieres," 1787, vol. i. c. 27. 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

arete, reaching its summit. They could not have ascended 
by the first arete on account of the overhanging rocks of 
the Aiguille du Goiiter. When at the top of the second 
arete they were seen against the snow, and dislodged a 
large number of stones — at that moment the clock at 
Les Ouches was striking twelve. Le Grand Joras (Lom- 
bard Meunier) saw them from the top of the rognon 
which is above the glacier of La Gria (Griaz). 

" AL Bourrit was on the top of Pierre Ronde at the 
foot of the glacier. He came to the side of the glacier of 
La Gria at the foot of the Aiguille du Gouter, which the 
others had ascended. He had a headache, felt extremely 
cold about eight a.m., and was very pale. He made a 
sketch of the valley of Chamonix, and after an hour came 
down again to Pierre Ronde to rest. Joras thinks he saw 
the two travellers again in the hollow which is behind the 
Aiguille du Gouter ; they appeared to be ascending the 
slope which joins the snow summit of the Glacier de 
Bionnassay. They say they were six hours above the 
Aiguille du Gouter, but this is wrong, as they returned by 
daylight to the foot of Vausa (Voza) ; that they were 
within ten toises of the rock (60 feet) at the base of the 
Grand Mont Blanc behind the second ; that they rounded 
the Grand Mont on the Bonhomme side, where the 
slope is too steep and would require step cutting" ; that 
the slope at the head of the Glacier des Bossons is good, 
but that one cannot get up the snow crests of the peaks 
of the central chain towards the Aiguille du Midi ; that 
they did not suffer from heat at all, and came down like 
birds ; and that it would be possible to erect a hut 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

on the Aiguille du Gouter, which is composed of flat 

" M. BoLirrit descended to Bionay, having taken some 
milk at Bionnassay ; Franfois Gervaix joined him at half- 
past seven, and related his adventures. Marie Couttet 
went straight home, while M. Bourrit waited at Sallanches 
to hear what Couttet had to say, and then set out for 

Now the accounts of Bourrit and Paccard are practi- 
cally identical. There are some small discrepancies of 
little importance. Bourrit says that it was eleven p.m. 
when he was roused by the return of the two adventurers 
from Mont Blanc ; Paccard, that it was half-past seven. 
Bourrit that his party consisted of six persons ; Paccard 
of seven, and gives the name, not of Maxime only, but of 
Francois of Sallanches. If the expedition had been suc- 
cessful both Chamonix and St. Gervais would have shared 
in the triumph, for both places were adequately repre- 
sented. It is clear that each thought the ridge of the 
Bosses impracticable, because it required step cutting, a 
process with which all the pioneers of that time were 
very imperfectly acquainted ; and it is interesting to note 
that both were of opinion that a hut might be built on 
the summit of the Aiguille du Gouter, a suggestion which 
was in fact carried out, but not until seventy years later. 

The expedition was remarkable, and the height attained 
might well have given the pioneers a reasonable hope of 
ultimate success. Bourrit went into raptures about it. 
It was manifest that the explorers were getting on. The 
great mountain might be ascended both by the northern 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

and western sides, but as yet it was unconquerable and 

Bourrit wrote to Saussure from Sallanches, and the 
Genevese physicist immediately determined to undertake 
the enterprise. He was not an easy man to move, being 
before all things a man of science ; barometers, ther- 
mometers, and all kinds of scientific instruments were as 
the breath of his life. Again, the season was getting late, 
and he dreaded the short days. However his usual guides, 
Pierre Bahnat and Jean Marie Couttet, were to make 
some preliminary investigations. The winters of 1784 
and 1785 having been extremely severe, and the summer 
of the latter year cold and stormy, an immense quantity 
of snow had fallen, and hence the attempt was postponed 
till the autumn. 

On the fourth of September, 1785, Jean Marie Couttet 
and Lombard Meunier made a further journey of dis- 
covery. They slept high up on the rocks on the north 
side of the Bionnassay glacier, and the next morning 
reached the summit of the Dome, as Coxe tells us ; or 
the Aiguille du Gouter only, according to IM. Durier, 
where terrible wind and hail storms forced them to 
return. Saussure then took the matter in hand. It is 
clear that he desired to be accompanied only by his 
guides, but Bourrit insisted on being one of the party, 
and Saussure, in consideration of Bourrit having dis- 
covered the St. Gervais route,^ agreed. Bourrit also 
brought his son with him, a young man of twenty-one, 

• But see p. 36. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

"whose scientific attainments were of no ordinary 
character." ^ 

On the tweh'th of September, 1785, the whole party 
arrived at the chalet of Battandier, a comfortable peasant 
of Bionnassay, who received them with the utmost cor- 
diality. Science, as M. Durier truly says, "is a great lady 
who cannot travel without much baggage." On the 
morning of the thirteenth a caravan of seventeen persons 
started from the village, carrying thermometers, baro- 
meters, hygrometers, electrometers, and all the various 
munitions of mountaineering warfare. Saussure intended 
the party to sleep in tents at the highest possible elevation, 
but Bourrit had ordered some of the guides to construct 
a stone cabin at the foot of the Aiguille du Gouter (really 
on the summit of the Tete Rousse), in and near which 
the whole party passed the night. The remnants of this 
cabin still exist, for I used it as a sleeping place in August, 
1856, and again spent some hours in it in August, 1896 — 
forty years later. It is, however, rarely used in these 
days, travellers by the St. Gervais route having been able 
for many years to pass the night in the hut on the summit 
of the Aiguille du Gouter. Saussure gives a charming 
account of his expedition. The party climbed from 
Bionnassay by the right bank of the glacier, and reached 
their new cabin in eight hours, where fresh water was 
found. Above them rose the Aiguille du Gouter, by 
which they hoped to gain the summit. Two of the 
guides had already climbed it, and pointed out the route. 
On their right was a great snow summit (clearly the 

I Albert Smith, 1853, P- z^- 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

Aiguille de Bionnassay), from which masses of ice fell 
from time to time. The leader spent the afternoon and 
evening in making scientific observations, the weather 
being brilliant, and the temperature two and a half 
degrees above freezing point. They had a good fire, 
branches of fir formed the roof of their sleeping place, an 
open umbrella served as a door, and they had carried up 
mattresses from Bionnassay. 

Bourrit and his son were troubled with the rarity of 
the air, were unable to digest their dinner, and had no 
appetite for supper. Saussure, on the other hand, passed 
an excellent night, and watched from his bed a glorious 
moonrise. The following morning a start was made at 
six o'clock with every hope of success. It would have 
been indeed but poetical justice for Saussure to have 
obtained his own reward. The Aiguille du Gouter 
seemed to him to be inaccessible, but the guides re- 
assured him, saying that the ascent from Bionnassay to 
the cabin was more difficult and perilous than from the 
cabin to the summit of Mont Blanc, so he proceeded full 
of hope and courage. 

He tells of a rapture almost puerile when recognising 
the Lake of Geneva. On attacking the Aiguille they were 
surprised to find a stranger also climbing in their direc- 
tion, but they recognised with a cry of joy the guide 
Cuidet, who had accompanied Bourrit the previous year, 
and who with Jean Marie Couttet had got so near the 
summit. Cuidet was so anxious to form one of the party 
that he had climbed all the night alone to be able to join 
them ! He took his share of the baggage and his place 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

ill the caravan. The travellers appear to have rehed upon 
the guides to a far greater extent than the modern moun- 
taineer. Each walked between two guides and between 
two alpenstocks, " a barrier whicli advanced with them, 
and kept them from any kind of danger." They traversed 
the now well-known couloir and took to the rocks, where 
they found their task laborious enough, the rocks being 
very loose, and Saussure was at times obliged to seize the 
leg of the guide in front, the climb being so steep that it 
was on a level with his head. 

Things became worse on nearing the summit of the 
Aiguille, the snow was soft, and the party took a rest and 
sent Pierre Balmat forward to reconnoitre. He returned 
in an hour and reported that the fresh snow was so great 
that it was impossible to reach the summit without danger 
and extreme fatigue, so with great regret this expedition 
also was abandoned. The party descended to the cabin, 
and Bourrit and his son to Bionnassay, but Saussure 
spent another night there, and made several interesting 
observations before returning to Geneva.^ 

Coxe says that the party reached the summit of the 
Dome du Gouter,^ but this is manifestly a mistake. 
Saussure's narrative makes it clear that even the summit 
of the Aiguille du Gouter was not reached ; but this was 
the first occasion when a scientific ascent was made, and 
any observations of real value either attempted or 

An effort of such importance naturally engaged the 

' "Voyages dans les Alpes," 1786, 8vo, vol. iv. c. 52. 
' William Coxe, " Travels in Switzerland," vol. ii. p. 14. 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

keenest attention of the observing Paccard, and the 
following record is perhaps the most careful and the 
most valuable to be found in his volume of manu- 
script : — 

" Voyage de M. de Saiissiire. — On September nth, 1785, 
Marie Couttet, Jean Michel Tournier, and Fran9ois Folli- 
guet, started to construct a hut at Pierre Ronde. The 
weather was bad, and in the evening snow fell near the 
hut. The bad weather continued on Monday until noon, 
when they had completed the hut, which faces the lower 
side of the vertical part of the Glacier de la Gria where 
M. Bourrit went the previous year. The next morning 
they started at 6.20 to meet M. de Saussure at Bionnassay 
at the house of Battandier, which they reached at eight 
o'clock. Thence they started again, reaching the hut at 
five p.m. They carried two palliasses. Two other men 
carried about fifty pounds weight of wood, sufficient for 
a moderate fire for two nights. Two others carried six 
sheets, five blankets, and three pillows. Two carried 
provisions, and one the roof of the hut. The latter one 
with the wood carriers went down, leaving twelve who 
ascended the Aiguille, namely. Professor de Saussure, 
MM. Bourrit, father and son, Pierre Balmat, Marie 
Couttet, Joras, Jean Michel Tournier, Fran9ois Folliguet, 
Jean Pierre Cachat, Fran9ois Cuidet of the Grua, Nicolas 
Gervaix, and another of Bionnassay. There is room for 
five in the hut, which is covered with flat stones. The 
others spent the night outside ; a fire was lighted about 
eighteen feet from the hut. After M. de Saussure had 
retired to bed the others spent the night quietly, with the 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

exception of young M. Bourrit, who suffered from moun- 
tain sickness. They started the next morning (the four- 
teenth) at 6.20, reached the foot of the Aiguille du Gouter 
at 8.30, and ascended until eleven o'clock by the arete 
which is seen from Chamonix, and thence by the arete 
which is behind, towards the glacier of Bionnassay after 
crossing two couloirs. There the Aiguille is much 
steeper. M. de Saussure sent off at eleven o'clock two 
men (Pierre Balmat and Cuidet) to find out the way. 
The}^ were absent one hour and fifteen minutes. Pierre 
Balmat shouted from the top that there were two feet of 
fresh snow on the ground. M. de Saussure, who has 
always shown a dislike for snowy tracks — though he was 
a good walker on rocky ground — decided to make ex- 
periments where he was. All were glad of it except 
young Bourrit, who so far had only taken a little brandy 
and water, and wished to go on higher. M. de Saussure 
observed the barometer several times. It gave him a 
height of 1,900 toises above the sea (1,905 toises accord- 
ing to a letter he wrote to me). This appears to me 
strange, as it left but 526 toises more for the height of 
Mont Blanc, whilst from the level of the Brevent to 
where the party were there would be 617 toises, and 100 
toises more to the top of the Gouter, whilst from the top 
of Brevent, which is 1,287 toises above the sea, die height 
of Mont Blanc above the Gouter appears to be at least 
double that of the Gouter above the Brevent. Perhaps 
Mont Blanc is higher than is generally believed ; its dis- 
tance may make it appear deceptive. M. de Saussure 
also observed the electrometer. They came down about 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

noon, and were seen at four p.m. crossing a snow slope 
at the base of the Aiguille, where rocks pierce through 
the snow, behind and above the glacier of la Gria. M. 
de Saussure was tied like a prisoner in coming down, 
with a rope under the arms, to which Francois Folliguet 
was attached in front and Pierre Balmat behind. Couttet 
was in front to mark the steps. M. Bourrit was held by 
the collar of his coat by Tournier, and was leaning on 
the shoulder of Gervais. In the difficult places a barrier 
was made by a baton, on which M. de Saussure was able 
to lean, both going up and descending. Young M. 
Bourrit, almost ill, ascended by holding to Cuidet's coat. 
They ate bread and drank wine and water coming down, 
and reached the hut at six p.m. Accounts were settled, 
and the two Bourrits started with the guides, who brought 
down the luggage to Bionnassay. The next day they 
reached Chamonix about ten a.m. M. de Saussure 
remained with Pierre Balmat, Couttet, Cachat, and with 
all the bedding and clothing. M. de Saussure made 
barometric and thermometric observations on the 
fifteenth. The hut is a little lower than the Buet. He 
took levels and collected more than forty lbs. weight of 
stones from the lAiguille du Gouter and Pierre Ronde, 
and four or five plants. They left at seven o'clock, going 
down leisurely to Bionnassay, which was reached at one 
o'clock, where they had a good dinner. M. de Saussure, 
with Pierre Balmat, went on to sleep at Sallanches, and 
the others to Chamonix. Each guide had six francs a 
day, and M. de Saussure, who paid everything, spent 15 
louis (25 francs each). He had come incognito from 

49 E 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Geneva, pretending that he was going to the little Saint 

This account of Dr. Paccard is invaluable for its direct- 
ness, simplicity, and truth, being no doubt written after 
careful conference with the guides. It tallies in almost 
every detail with that of Saussure, but gives, which the 
latter does not, the names of all but one of the guides 

It shows that the early explorers were provided not 
only with blankets, but also with sheets and pillows, 
luxuries unknown to the modern mountaineer ; and the 
length of time that a large and unwieldy party took to 
attain moderate elevations. It is also an amusing picture 
of the extraordinary bodily assistance which the guides 
were then called upon to render to their employers. 

The interest taken in the ascent now became keener 
and keener. Saussure having assaulted the mountain in 
person, men began to believe that the end was not far 
distant. The illustrious adventurer ordered another cabin 
to be constructed on the western side at a higher eleva- 
tion than Bourrit's hut. He still believed the summit 
inaccessible ; but if it were ever to be attained it would 
be by the western route and no other. But here the 
jealousy of the Chamoniards came in ; no way could 
possibly be easier than that which commenced at their 
own doors ! Why should a route be attempted which 
involved going by the Col de Voza to Bionnassay before 
the ascent could be begun ? Again, was not the moun- 
tain their exclusive property ? What business had the 
St. Gervais hunters to interfere with their vested rights ? 


Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

Would that this ignoble jealousy had distinguished the 
men of Chamonix only at that time ! They got anxious 
and even angry. True it was, unhappily, that the St. 
Gervais men had first discovered the western route by 
which, and by which only according to Saussure, the 
summit could be conquered. The prize should not slip 
from their grasp without an effort. To begin with, which 
route was the shorter ? To satisfy themselves six guides 
of Chamonix determined to solve the problem. Opinions 
differ as to the date of this adventure. Saussure says the 
eighth of June, 1786. M. Durier gives the thirtieth of 
June, 1786, and says that "all other writers have copied 
the date given by Saussure, which is not only unlikely as 
being too early in the season, but is contradicted by the 
evidence of Jacques Balmat." But Paccard's manuscript, 
which ought to be conclusive, gives the eighth. The 
tryst of the two parties was the summit of the Dome 
du Gouter. It is certain that those who started from 
the Chamonix side reached the rendezvous an hour 
and a half sooner than those who started from the 
western side, and therefore the question of time was 
decided in favour of the former. The whole party 
then proceeded towards the Bosses du Dromadaire, but 
were stopped by the sharpness of the arete which had 
foiled their predecessors; and it is remarkable that this 
celebrated ridge was not traversed, at least by travellers, 
until the expiration of seventy-three more years,i but it 
is now the ordinary route from the Chamonix side. The 

' Note. — M. Durier says that the arete of the Bosses was followed to the 
summit by Chamonix guides about the year 1839. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

party were disconsolate at finding the arete so narrow 
and the precipices so steep that it was impossible to pro- 
ceed in that direction. They carefully examined the 
different approaches to the summit, and unanimously 
concluded that by the side of the Dome du Gouter it was 
absolutely inaccessible. With one exception they all 
immediately returned to Chamonix by the Montague de 
la Cote, utterly discontented, and to add to their troubles 
encountered a storm of snow and hail on their way down. 
Dr. Paccard's record is as follows : — 

"On June yth, 1786, Joseph Carrier, Jean Michel 
Tournier, and Francois Paccard left Chamonix to go 
and sleep in a hole on the Montagne de la Cote, where 
they were joined by Joseph Balmat des Baux (a mis- 
take in the Christian name). They started very early 
in the morning for Mont Blanc. On the same day 
Pierre Balmat and Marie Couttet had slept at the 
Pierre Ronde above Bionnassay and started also on 
the same eighth of June to go up Mont Blanc from the 
Bionnassay side. Those who started from the Montagne 
de la Cote were the first to reach the rock which they say 
is to the rear at the base of the summit of Mont Blanc. 
They state that it is impossible to go from there up to 
the last summit. On one side precipices above the Alice 
Blanche ; on the other, straight slopes cut off sharply and 
protected by chasms. It would seem that from that spot 
one would be able to go more easily from behind the 
Aiguille du Midi. A stone cairn was erected on the 
rock near the top of the second Mont Blanc (Dome du 
Gouter). . . . They did not find the stone man which 

5; 2 

Further Attempts to Ascend Mont Blanc 

Cuidet and Couttet were supposed to have erected; on 
the contrary, not a single stone appeared to have been 
shifted out of its place on the rock which Couttet pointed 
out as the one on which the stone man had been built. 
They arrived before those from Bionnassay, whom they 
saw on the Aiguille du Gouter looking like two chamois. 
They called out to them and heard their answers, but 
they were evidently very tired, nearly all experienced a 
kind of faintness. One of them got better after drinking 
a little fresh water found on the rocks. The others went 
down, as the weather turned out bad and hail was falling. 
They arrived at ten p.m., going down almost from the top 
of the Montagne de la Cote in the dark. The one from the 
Baux, ivho lagged a good deal behind, was on the snow 
still when darkness came on, and was following the steps 
of the others who went down to their knees in the snow, 
which was hard in the morning. Having noticed by 
means of his baton a crevasse which the others had 
jumped, he did not dare to go on, but putting his bag 
under his head, lay down and spent the night on the snow ; 
his clothes were quite frozen the next morning. Most 
of them were burned by the sun, Tournier being as red 
as fire. The skin peels off after a few days like scales." 

So ended the unsuccessful attempts to climb the great 
white mountain. It had foiled the ablest guides of 
Chamonix and of St. Gervais, and there was no claimant 
for Saussure's reward. Man was beaten by the mountain 
but his victory was very near. The period of endeavour 
was drawing to a close. The time of conquest was 
setting in. 




The Story told by Alexandre Dumas 

JACQUES BALMAT was born on the nineteenth of 
January, 1762. An account of the circumstances 
which led him to attack the mountain, of his various 
unsuccessful attempts to gain the summit, and of his 
ultimate victory, was not made public until nearly half a 
century after the victory was gained. How this account 
came to be written we shall see further on. It was in fact 
dictated by Balmat to the illustrious Alexandre Dumas 
when he visited Chamonix in 1832. The narrative is so 
graphic and, as will be seen, dramatic, that whether it 
can be absolutely relied upon or not, it must be given as 
it stands, freely translated from Dumas' " Impressions de 
Voyage Suisse." 

" In those days I really was something worth looking 
at. I had a famous calf and a stomach like cast-iron, 
and could walk three days consecutively without eating, 
a fact I found useful to me when lost on the Buet. I 


Jacques Bulmat, from Michel Carrier's book. 

[To nur p.itic 54. 

The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

munched a little snow — nothing more. Every now and 
then I cast a sidelong look at Mont Blanc and said to 
myself, * My fme fellow, whatever you may say or whatever 
you may do, I shall get to the top of you some day. You 
will not escape me I' Night and day this thought kept 
running in my brain. By day I used to climb the 
Brevent, whence Mont Blanc can be seen to such ad- 
vantage. I passed hours there searching with eagerness 
to discover a route. * Bah ! ' said I, * if there is no way 
up the mountain I must make one, for up I must go.' 
At night everything was changed. No sooner were my 
eyes closed than I found myself *en route,' and went 
along as gaily as if there had been a royal road to the 
summit. ' Upon my word,' 1 would say to myself in my 
dream, * I was a fool to think Mont Blanc was a difficulty.' 
Then little by little the way would get narrower, but still 
there was a good footpath like the one up the Flegere. I 
would keep on and come at last to where there was no 
road at all, and then stumbling on in unknown regions, 
the ground would move and swallow me up to the knees. 
* Never mind,' I would say, and go struggling on — how 
stupid one is in a dream ! — I should get out at last, but 
have to go on all fours as the way became steeper and 
steeper and everything worse and worse. I would plant 
my feet on pieces of rock and feel them shake like loose 
teeth, and the sweat would fall from me in great drops. 
I felt stifled and as if I had nightmare. Never mind, keep 
going ! I was like a lizard on a wall. I saw the earth 
sinking away beneath me. It was all the same, I only 
looked at the sky. All I cared for was to reach the top ; 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

but my legs, my grand legs, failed me, and I could nc 
longer bend them. I would catch at the stones with my 
nails and feel that I was going to fall, and then would say 
to myself, ' Jacques Balmat, my friend, if you don't catch 
hold of that branch your time has come.' I shall always 
remember that accursed branch ; one night I touched it 
with the tips of my fingers, and drawing up my legs as if 
I were rowing, clutched it, saying, ' Now I have you ! 
now all will go well.' At that moment I was awakened 
by a vigorous box on the ear by my wife, and, would you 
believe it, I had caught hold of her ear and was tugging 
at it as if it were indiarubber. 

" After that awakening I felt that the time for action 
was come, and I determined on leaving my bed to set to 
work in earnest. I began by putting on my gaiters. 

* Where are you going ? ' said my wife. ' To look for 
crystals,' I replied, * and don't be uneasy if I don't come 
back to-night ; if I am not home by nine o'clock I shall 
be sleeping somewhere on the mountains.' I did not 
want her to know my intentions. I took a stout alpen- 
stock tipped with iron, double the length and thickness 
of an ordinary one, filled my gourd with brandy, put 
some bread in my pocket, and set off. 

" I had already made several attempts to climb the 
mountain by the Mer de Glace, and had always been 
stopped by the Mont Maudit. I would sometimes try 
by the Aiguille du Gouter, but thence to the Dome there 
was a kind of arete about a quarter of a league long and 
one or two feet wide and more than i,8oo feet in depth. 

* Nq, thank you, not that way,' I said. 1 therefore deter- 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

mined this time to change the route, and went by the 
Montagne de la Cote. At the end of three hours I 
reached the Glacier des Bossons. No great difficulty 
there. Four hours after that I arrived at the Grands 
Mulets. ' Well,' I thought, ' now I deserve some break- 
fast,' and I took a bit of bread and a sup from my gourd. 
That was good ! 

"At this time there was no level ground at the Grands 
Mulets, and you may fancy it was not over comfortable. 
I was getting uneasy as to finding a place higher up to 
pass the night and was alarmed at seeing none, so deter- 
mined to go further and trust to Providence. At the end 
of two hours and a half I found a capital place, hard and 
dry, where the rocks came through the snow and gave 
me a space of about six or seven feet to lie on, not to 
sleep however, but to sit upon and wait for daylight, with 
rather more comfort than lying on the snow. It was 
now about seven o'clock in the evening, so I broke off my 
second piece of bread, drank another drop of Cognac, 
and settled myself on the rock where I should have to 
pass the night. It did not take long to make my bed. 
About nine o'clock the mist began to rise like a thick 
smoke from the valley, and in half an hour it reached 
and enveloped me ; but I was still cheered by the light 
of the last rays of the setting sun, which had scarcely left 
the highest summit of Mont Blanc. I followed them 
with my eyes as long as I could, but at last they disap- 
peared and the day was done. My face was turned 
towards Chamonix. At my left lay a huge plain of snow 
which reached up to the Dome du Gouter. At my right, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

and only a few paces distant, was a precipice of about 
800 feet. I did not dare to sleep for fear of rolling down 
this abyss in a dream. I seated myself on my knapsack and 
began to knock my hands and feet together to keep them 
warm. Soon the moon rose, pale and surrounded by 
clouds which nearly hid her till eleven o'clock. I saw 
at the same time a hateful cloud come rolling down from 
the Aiguille du Gouter, which no sooner reached me 
than it lashed my face with snow. 

" I covered my face with a handkerchief and said, * All 
right, go on ; don't mind me.' I heard the falling 
avalanches rolling and grumbling like thunder. The 
glaciers cracked, and at every crack it seemed to me as if 
the mountain moved. I felt neither hungry nor thirsty, 
but had a violent aching in my head which began at the 
top and reached to the eyebrows. All this time the fog 
was as thick as ever. My breath was frozen and my 
handkerchief and my clothes were soaked with snow, and 
soon I felt as if I were stark naked. I moved my hands 
and feet faster, and began to sing to drive away the 
thoughts that were seething in my brain. My voice 
seemed to die away in the snow, no echo replied ; every- 
thing was dead in this ice-bound world and the sound of 
my own voice almost terrified me. I became silent and 
afraid. At two o'clock the heavens grew white towards 
the east, and with the dawn my courage revived. The 
sun was fighting with the clouds which covered Mont 
Blanc, and I hoped every moment that he would disperse 
them, but about four o'clock they grew thicker. The sun 
was blotted out, and I began to fear that my enterprise 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

must be abandoned for that day. In order to make some 
progress, even if the ascent should prove impossible, I 
began to explore the neighbourhood of my rock and 
spent the whole day on the glacier looking for the best 
routes. As evening approached, and with it the mist, I 
descended as far as the Bee a I'Oiseau,! where night over- 
took me. This night was passed more agreeably than the 
last. I was not on the ice, and was able to sleep a little ; 
but 1 awoke quite benumbed, and as soon as daylight 
appeared I crept down to the valley, having promised my 
wife that I would not be away more than three days. My 
clothes did not thaw till I reached the village of La Cote. 
I had hardly gone a hundred steps past it, when I met 
Fran9ois Paccard, Joseph Carrier, and Jean Michel 
Tournier, three guides ; they had their knapsacks and 
alpenstocks with them and wore their climbing clothes. I 
asked where they were going, and they said in search of kids 
which had strayed from the children who had been watch- 
ing them. As these animals are of little value, I felt that 
the men were trying to deceive, and at once surmised that 
they were about to attempt the journey which I had just 
failed to achieve. M. de Saussure had promised a reward 
to the first man who should gain the summit. Paccard 
putting one or two questions to me, such as where one 
could sleep on the Bee a I'Oiseau, my surmise was con- 
firmed. I replied that snow lay everywhere and to find a 
good sleeping place was not possible. I saw that he 
exchanged signs with the others, which I pretended not to 
notice. They turned aside and consulted together, and 

' A rock high up on the Montagne de la Cote. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

ended by proposing that I should join them and that we 
should all ascend the mountain together. 

" I agreed, but said that I must first go home, as I had 
promised, so as not to break faith with my wife. I went 
and told her not to be uneasy at another absence. I 
changed my stockings and gaiters, took some provisions 
and started at eleven o'clock the same night without 
taking any rest. At one o'clock I found my comrades at 
the Bee a I'Oiseau, about four leagues below the place 
where I had slept. They were sleeping like marmots. I 
awoke them, and all four began the march upward. That 
day we crossed the glacier of Taconnay and reached the 
Grands Mulcts, where two days previously I had passed 
such a dreadful night. We turned to the right, and at 
three o'clock were on the Dome du Gouter. One of us 
(Paccard) had begun to be out of breath after the Grands 
Mulcts, and now lay down on one of our coats. On 
reaching the top of the Dome we saw something black 
moving on the Aiguille du Gouter, and could not tell 
whether it was a man or a chamois. We cried out and 
some one replied. Then after a minute we kept silent, 
and then words came, ' Hallo, you fellows, stop a bit, we 
want to climb with you.' We waited for them, which 
enabled Paccard to reach us, having recovered his powers. 
At the end of half an hour the others joined us. They 
were Pierre Balmat and Marie Couttet, who had made a 
bet that they would be on the Dome du Gouter before 
my companions. The}' lost their wager. Meantime I 
had been using the time to explore, and had gone nearly 
a quarter of a league, almost sitting astride on the top of 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

the arete which joins the Dome du Gouter to the top of 
]\Iont Blanc. It seemed a path fit only for a rope-dancer, 
but I did not care, and I believe that I should have 
reached the top if the Pointe Rouge had not barred the 
way. As it was impossible, however, to get past that, I 
returned to the spot where I had left my companions ; 
but found nothing but my knapsack. Convinced that 
the}^ could not get up Mont Blanc that day, they had 
gone down to the valley, no doubt saying ' Balmat is very 
active and will soon overtake us.' Finding myself alone, I 
hesitated for a moment between the desire of following 
them and the longing to attempt the ascent by myself. I 
was vexed at their departure, but felt that this time I 
might be successful, so determined to try. I shouldered 
my knapsack and started. It was now four o'clock. I 
crossed the Grand Plateau and came to the Brenva 
glacier, from which I could see Courmayeur and the 
Valley of Aosta in Piedmont. Clouds being on the top 
of Mont Blanc, I did not attempt to climb up, less from 
the fear of getting lost, than from the certainty that the 
others, unless they could see me, would never believe that 
I had reached the summit. I profited by the little day- 
light still left to seek some place of shelter, but after an 
hour's search found nothing, and, remembering my 
recent experience, determined to return. I began my 
descent and reached the Grand Plateau. As I had not 
then learnt, as I have since done, the use of a veil to pre- 
serve my eyes, they became so fatigued by the constant 
glare of the snow that I could distinguish nothing, but 
seemed to see patches of blood around me. I sat down 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

to rest, shut my eyes, and let my head fall between my 
hands. After half an hour my sight was restored, but 
night was setting in, and as there was no time to be lost 
I got up and set off. I had not gone many steps when 
my baton showed that there was no ice below me. I had 
come to the edge of the great crevasse in which three men 
had died and out of which Marie Couttet had been pulled 
up. 'Ah!' I said, * is that you?' We had, in fact, 
crossed it in the morning on an ice bridge covered with 
snow. I searched for it, but as the night became darker 
could not find it. My sight became worse, the aching in 
my head returned, I felt no desire for food or drink and 
was miserably sick and ill. 

" Obliged to remain near the crevasse till daylight, I put 
my knapsack on the snow, covered my face with my 
handkerchief and prepared as best I could to pass another 
dreadful night. As I was now about two thousand feet 
higher the cold was more piercing. A fall of fine snow 
froze me, irresistible drowsiness came over me and 
thoughts of death passed through my mind. These were 
evil signs, and I knew that if I had the bad luck to close 
my eyes they might never re-open. From my perch I 
could see, ten thousand feet below me, the lights of 
Chamonix, where my late comrades would be sitting by 
their firesides or lying snugly in bed, and said to myself, 
' Very likely not one of them has a thought to spare for 
me ! Perhaps one may say, while he is poking his fire 
or drawing his bedclothes over his ears, " That fool 
Jacques is very likely knocking his feet together up 
there ! " ' I felt no lack of courage, only of strength. No 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

man is made of iron, and I felt far from cheerful. During 
the short intervals between the crash of avalanches I 
heard distinctly the barking of a dog at Courmayeur, 
though it was more than a league and a half to that 
village from the spot where I was lying. The noise 
served to distract my thoughts, for it was the only earthly 
sound that reached me. About midnight the barking 
ceased, and nothing remained but the deathly silence of 
the grave. The noise of the glaciers and avalanches could 
reassure no human being, they could only frighten him. 
At two o'clock appeared on the horizon that same white 
line I had formerly observed, and the sun followed as 
before. Mont Blanc had his nightcap on, and when 
such is the case he is in a bad temper and no one dare 
approach him. I knew his disposition and was sufficiently 
warned, and began my descent into the valley. I was 
despondent, but not disheartened by these two vain 
attempts, but felt quite certain I should be more fortunate 
a third time. Five hours more and I was back in the 
village. It was eight o'clock. All was right at home ; my 
wife gave me something to eat, but I was more sleepy 
than hungry. She wanted me to lie down in the bed- 
room, but I was afraid of being tormented by the flies, so 
I went into the barn, stretched myself upon the hay and 
slept without waking for twenty-four hours. 

" Three weeks passed without any favourable change in 
the weather taking place, and without in the least lessen- 
ing my desire to try again. Dr. Paccard, a relative of the 
guide I have spoken about, desired this time to accom- 
pany me, and we agreed to set out on the first fine day. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

At last, on the eighth of August, 1786, the weather seemed 
sufficiently settled to venture. I went to Paccard and 
said, ' Well, Doctor, are you determined ? Are you afraid 
of the cold or the snow or the precipices ? Speak out 
like a man.' * With you I fear nothing,' was his reply. 
'Well then, the time has come to climb the molehill.' 
The Doctor said that he was quite ready, but just as he 
shut the door of his house I think his heart failed him a 
little, for he could not get the key out of the lock and kept 
turning it first one way and then the other. * I say, 
Balmat,' he said, ' if we did the right thing we should 
take two guides.' ' No,' I replied ; ' either you and I go 
together, or you go with the others. I want to be first, 
not second.' He thought for a moment, drew out the 
key, put it in his pocket, and with his head bent down 
followed me mechanically. In about a minute he gave 
himself a shake and said, ' Well, I must trust to you, 
Balmat.' * Forward,' said I, * and let us trust to Pro- 
vidence.' He tried, but could not sing in tune, which 
annoyed him. I took him by the arm, and said, ' This 
project must be known to ourselves only.' We were 
obliged, however, to take a third person into our con- 
lidence. This was the shopkeeper from whom we bought 
some syrup to mix with the water we should carry. 
Brandy and wine would have been too strong for such 
an expedition. As the woman was suspicious we told her 
everything, and asked her to look out next day on the 
Dome du Goiiter side about nine o'clock in the morning, 
as we hoped to be there then. We made all our arrange- 
ments, took leave of our wives, and set off about live 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

o'clock in the evening, one taking the right and the other 
the left side of the Arve so that we might not attract 
attention. We met again at the village of La Cote. The 
same evening we slept on the top of La Cote, between the 
glaciers of Bossons and Taconnay. I carried a rug and 
used it to muffle the Doctor up like a baby. Thanks to 
this precaution he passed a tolerable night. As for me, I 
slept soundly until half-past one. At two the white line 
appeared, and soon the sun rose without a cloud, brilliant 
and beautiful, a promise of a glorious day ! I awoke the 
Doctor and we began our day's march. At the end of a 
quarter of an hour we were struggling with the glacier of 
Taconnay, a sea full of great crevasses whose depth could 
not be measured by the eye. The snow bridges gave way 
under our feet. The Doctor's first steps were halting and 
uncertain, but the sight of my alertness gave him con- 
fidence, and we went on safe and sound. Then began 
the ascent to the Grands Mulcts, which was soon left 
behind. I showed the doctor where I had passed the 
first night. He made an expressive grimace, and kept 
silent for ten minutes ; then, stopping suddenly, said, 
' Balmat, do you really think we shall get to the top of 
Mont Blanc to-day ? ' I saw how his thoughts were 
drifting, and laughingly answered him, but gave no 
promise. Ascending for about two hours we came to the 
Plateau, where the wind became more and more boisterous, 
and arrived at last at the projecting rock known as Les 
Petits Mulcts, when a gust of wind carried off the Doctor's 
hat. I turned round on hearing his cry, and saw the felt 
hat careering down the mountain towards Courmayeur. 

65 F 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

With his arms stretched out he looked after it. 'We 
must go into mourning for it/ I said ; * you will never 
see it again for it has gone to Piedmont, and good luck 
be with it ! ' It seemed as if my little joke had given 
offence to the wind, for my mouth had scarcely closed 
when a more violent gust obliged us to lie down on our 
stomachs to prevent our following the hat. For ten 
minutes, rise we could not. The wind lashed the 
mountain sides and passed whistling over our heads, 
driving great balls of snow almost as big as houses before 
it. The Doctor was dismayed, but I only thought of the 
shopwoman we had told to look out for us about this 
time on the Dome du Gouter. At the first respite I rose, 
but the Doctor could only follow on all fours ; we then 
came to a point from which we could see the village. 
Taking out my glass, there, twelve thousand feet below, 
was our gossiping friend and fifty others snatching a 
glass from hand to hand to look at us. Considerations of 
self-respect induced the Doctor to stand up, and that 
moment we saw that we were recognised, he by his big 
coat, and I by my ordinary clothes. They made signs to 
us by waving their hats. I replied by waving mine, but 
alas, the Doctor's had already taken leave. Having used 
up all his strength in getting on his feet, neither the en- 
couragement from below, nor my own earnest entreaties 
could induce him to continue the ascent. My eloquence 
exhausted, I told him to keep moving so as not to get be- 
numbed. He listened, without seeming to understand, 
and replied, ' All right.' I saw that he was suffering from 
the cold, while I also was nearly frozen. Leaving him the 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

bottle, I went on alone, saying that I should very soon 
come back to find him. He answered, ' Yes ! yes ! ' and 
telling him again to be sure not to stand still, I went off. 
I had hardly gone thirty paces when, on turning round, I 
saw him actually sitting down on the snow, with his back 
turned to the wind as some precaution. From that time 
onward the route presented no very great difficulty, but 
as I rose higher the air became much less easy to 
breathe, and I had to stop almost every ten steps and 
wheeze like one with consumption. 1 felt as if my lungs 
had gone and my chest was quite empty. I folded my 
handkerchief over my mouth, which made me a little 
more comfortable as I breathed through it. The cold got 
worse and worse, and to go a quarter of a league took 
an hour. I kept walking upward, with my head bent 
down, but finding that 1 was on a peak which was nev/ to 
me, I lifted my head and saw that at last I had reached 
the summit of Mont Blanc ! 

" I looked round, trembling for fear that there might 
yet be further some new unattainable aiguille. But no ! 
no ! I had no longer any strength to go higher ; the 
muscles of my legs seemed only held together by my 
trousers. But behold I was at the end of my journey ; I 
was on a spot where no living being had ever been 
before, no eagle nor even a chamois ! 1 had come alone, 
with no help but my own will and my own strength. 
Everything around belonged to me ! 1 was the monarch 
of Mont Blanc 1 I was the statue on this unique pedestal ! 
Ah, then I turned towards Chamonix and waved my 
hat on the end of my stick. I could see through my 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

glass the response. My subjects in the valley perceived. 
The whole village was gathered together in the market- 

*' When my first moments of exultation were over, my 
thoughts turned to my poor Doctor, and I went towards 
him as quickly as I could, calling out his name and 
getting greatly alarmed at hearing no reply. In a quarter 
of an hour, I saw him far off rolled up like a ball, but he 
was quite immovable and made no reply to the shouts 
which he must certainly have heard. I found him 
doubled up with his head between his knees, just like 
a cat when she makes herself into a muff". Tapping him 
on the shoulder, he raised his head, and I told him that I 
had been on the top of Mont Blanc. Even this did not 
interest him ; he only asked, ' Where can I lie down and 
go to sleep ? ' I told him he had started to go to the 
top of the mountain and there he would have to go. I 
lifted him up from the ground, took him by the shoulder 
and forced him forward several steps. He seemed quite 
torpid, and to care neither whether he went up or down. 
However, his blood seemed to circulate a little more 
freely after my efforts, and he asked if there were more 
gloves like those on my hands, which were of hareskin 
and made especially for this excursion, without fingers. 
At that moment I would not have parted with both of 
them even to my brother, but I gave him one. Shortly 
after six o'clock we were on the summit and, though the 
sun shone brilliantly, we saw stars shining in the deep 
blue sky. 

" Beneath was nothing but gaunt peaks, ice, rocks, and 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

snow. The great chain which crosses the Dauphin6 and 
stretches as far as the Tyrol was spread out before us, its 
four hundred glaciers shining in the sunlight. Could 
there be space for any green ground on the earth ? The 
lakes of Geneva and Neuchatel were specks of blue on 
the horizon. To the left lay the mountains of my dear 
country all fleecy with snow, and rising from meadows 
of the richest green. To the right was all Piedmont, and 
Lombardy as far as Genoa, and Italy was opposite. 

" Paccard could see nothing, but I felt no fatigue and 
scarcely noticed the difficulty of breathing which had an 
hour before so oppressed me. We stayed thirty-three 
minutes, until seven o'clock in the evening, and as there 
would only be two hours and a half more daylight, I 
began to descend, taking Paccard under his arms, and 
waving my hat as one last signal to those in the valley. 
There was no track to guide us, and the wind was so 
piercingly cold that the snow remained frozen, and we 
could only see the little round holes which the iron 
points of our Alpenstocks had made. Paccard was like 
a child, no energy or will. I guided him along the good 
places, and pushed, or carried him, along the bad. 
Night came on, and when we had crossed the crevasse 
at the foot of the Grand Plateau we were in the dark. 
Paccard stopped every few minutes, saying he could go 
no further, and I had to make him, not by persuasion 
only, but by brute force. At eleven o'clock we left the 
ice and set foot on solid ground, having lost all the sun's 
reflected light for more than an hour. Then I allowed 
Paccard to stop, and was just going to wrap a rug around 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

him when I saw that he could not move his hands. I 
asked him about them, and he repHed that they were 
useless and with no feeling in them whatever. I took 
off his gloves, and found his hands were dead white, 
and my own hand also from which I had taken the glove 
was quite numb. I said, 'Well, we have three frost- 
bitten hands between us.' He did not mind, but only 
wanted to lie down and sleep. He told me, however, to 
rub them with snow, and that was easily done. I began 
by rubbing his hands and finished by rubbing my own. 
Soon sensation returned, but accompanied by pains as 
sharp as if every vein had been pricked by needles. I 
rolled my baby up in his rug and put him to bed under 
the shelter of a rock ; we ate and drank a little ; pressed 
as close to one another as possible, and fell fast asleep. 

" In the morning at six o'clock I was awakened by 
Paccard. ' It is funny, Balmat,' he said ; * I can hear 
the birds singing, but can see no daylight. Perhaps 
because I cannot open my eyes ; ' and yet they were 
glaring like those of a horned owl. I replied that he was 
under a delusion and that he ought to see very well. 
Then he asked for a little snow, and melting it in the 
hollow of his hand with a little brandy, rubbed his eyelids 
with it. This done he saw no better, but his eyes watered 
profusely. ' Very well,' he said, ' having gone blind, 
how shall I be able to get down ? ' * You must hold on 
to the strap of my knapsack,' I said, * and walk behind 
me,' and in this way we descended to the village of La 
C6te. There I had to leave the Doctor, as I feared rny 
wife would be uneasy, and he managed to get home by 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

feeling his way with his stick. I returned home, and then 
saw what I looked like. I was quite unrecognisable. 
My eyes were red, my face black, and my lips blue. 
Every time I laughed or yawned the blood spouted out 
from my lips and cheeks, and in addition I was half 

" Four days afterwards I set out for Geneva to inform 
M. de Saussure that 1 had succeeded in scaling Mont 
Blanc. He had already heard the news from some 
Englishmen. He came at once to Chamonix and tried 
the ascent with me, but the weather only allowed us to 
get as far as the Montague de la Cote, and it was not till 
the following year that he carried out his great project." 

Such is the statement of Jacques Balmat, which makes 
light of the mountaineering capacity of the Doctor, and 
in which the narrator poses as complete master of the 
situation. Further on I propose to examine Balmat's 
story in detail — a story open to much obvious criticism — 
and to consider it in the light of other records ; but before 
doing so, however, it will be better to proceed with the 
account of the ascent of Mont Blanc made in the follow- 
ing year (1787) by the eminent and indefatigable Saussure. 




SAUSSURE heard with joy of the successful ascent 
recounted in the last chapter.^ The report reached 
him at Geneva on the following day, Jean Pierre 
Tairraz, who kept one of the little Chamonix inns, 
having sent a messenger with the news. It was after- 
wards detailed to him at greater length by Jacques Balmat 
himself when he had recovered from the effects of his 
excursion ; and who, no doubt, was not backward in 
claiming the reward promised for six and twenty years. 
Saussure at once determined to go to Chamonix and 
endeavour to repeat the ascent. He was by no means 
hopeful of the chances of success, being then forty-six 
years of age. However, he at once made arrangements, 
and on the thirteenth of August, 1786, wrote to Tairraz : — 
" I am very much obliged for the trouble you have 

' Note. — In the year in which this ascent was made Saussure published at 
Geneva (chez Barde Manget & Compagnie) a short account of his ascent. It is 
an 8vo pamphlet of thirty-one pages, a copy of which has been courteously placed 
at the author's disposal by M. Augerd of Bourg. The narrative is included in 
Saussure's " Voyages dans les Alpes " with many interesting additions, and from 
these two sources this chapter has been compiled. 

Saussurc, from a picture hv St. Our: 

[To face page 72 

The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

taken in sending me an express with your letter an- 
nouncing Dr. Paccard's fortunate expedition. I am 
delighted to hear of this, on such good authority. I gave 
two new crowns to the bearer, which he said was quite 
sufficient for his trouble. 

"And now I am going to confide a httle affair to you, 
which must be kept quite secret : I wish to attempt the 
same route. Not that I flatter myself that I shall be able 
to reach the summit, for neither the youth nor the agility 
of the doctor are mine, but I can at all events get high 
enough to make some observations and experiments of 
great importance. As it appears they had a great deal of 
trouble to cross the glacier above the Montague de la 
Cote, I wish you would send ofT five or six men at once 
to level the route as much as possible. Pay them good 
days' wages. I leave the sum — which shall be repaid at 
once — to your discretion. It is most essential to procure 
trustworthy and hard-working men. Put Jacques Balmat, 
who accompanied Doctor Paccard, at the head, and pay 
him better than the others. They must begin by building 
a hut at the top of the Montague de la Cote, which will 
serve them for a resting place at night and in bad weather, 
and it will also serve me. 

" As the task will be too great for me to go at once from 
the top of the Montague de la Cote to the summit, I also 
wish them to build another hut higher up, on some rock 
in the middle of the snow. 

*' But, in all this business, I positively forbid you to 
mention my name. Say everything has been ordered by 
a great Italian personage who wishes to be unknown, I 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

have most important reasons for this, and for no one to 
imagine that I am thinking of the attempt. 

" I expect to arrive at Chamonix on Thursday or 
Friday next, and hope all will be ready, or at all events 
very forward ; and that there may be no difficulties. 
Enclosed are two double louis to pay for the few first 
days' work and the wine for the men. 

" I should have been indeed pleased to have lodged at 
your house, if my old associations with the good dame 
Couteran had not established engagements which I 
cannot break. But rest assured you shall not be a 
loser. If you execute my commissions with promptitude, 
and attend upon me as I wish, you shall not be forgotten. 

" Moreover pray order, at once, a flat-sided ladder 
twelve or fifteen feet long. This laid down will help 
us in crossing the crevasses ; and when set up, in scaling 
rocks or cliffs of ice. It must be very firm, but light 
enough for one man to carr}'. With its aid the workmen 
will have no need to make long detours, nor to cut the 
ice, wherever the ladder is longer than the crevasses, so 
let them take one of this length at starting. They may 
decide whether its poles and steps be round or otherwise, 
but my own must have flat steps as they will be easier for 
me to walk on. 

" If the weather be indifferent they can still begin to 
build the lower hut, which should be as near to the edge 
of the ice as possible. In case there are no flat stones 
near, it can be built of pine branches with the leaves on. 
When these are well and thickly set, they will keep out 
not only the cold but also the rain. 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

" I could entrust this commission to several others at 
Chamonix, but well knowing your zeal and intelligence 
my confidence will not be misplaced. Moreover should 
success crown my attempt, I shall publish an account of 
it, and shall not fail to give due honour to your own 
important share in it, which will add not only to your 
reputation but to that of your inn. 

" I am, my dear Jean Pierre, your affectionate 

"DE Saussure, Professor. 

"Gexeva, Sunday, Aug. 13, 1786. 

" The commission then, you will recollect, is on behalf 
of an Italian nobleman. 

"i. To order a portable ladder with flat sides and 
fifteen feet long. 

" 2. To choose at once a sufficient number of brave 
workmen to build a good hut on the summit of the 
Montague de la Cote, close to the glacier, in stone, or 
pine branches with the leaves on. 

"3. They are to take a common ladder with them, 
fifteen feet long, and when the hut is finished, must try 
and ease the crossing of the glacier, by levelling the ice 
ridges or cutting steps where the crevasses are too large 
to allow them to be crossed on the ladder. 

**4. After they have arranged this, let them build another 
hut upon some rock two-thirds or three-fourths of the 
distance between the first hut and the top of the mountain. 

" N.B.— Settle beforehand with the workmen about 
their daily wages, and promise a good trinkgeld if the 
nobleman be content with their work." 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Saussure arrived at Chamonix shortly after his letter 
was written. He reached the Montagne de la Cote on 
the twentieth of August, a few days after the memorable 
first ascent, but bad weather setting in, obliged him to 
return. Snow and rain fell continuously during that 
season, and any further attempt was necessarily 
abandoned. Saussure, however, instructed Balmat to 
inspect the mountain in the following June and to 
advise him of the moment when the ascent might seem 
practicable. He then went to Provence to make ex- 
periments on the seashore for the sake of comparison 
with others which he hoped later on to make on Mont 

The following year (1787) Balmat watched continuously 
and wrote to Saussure that he had been unsuccessful in 
the month of June, but expected better fortune in the 
early days of July. Saussure started for Chamonix and 
met Balmat at Sallanches, who told him that he had 
again been on the summit of Mont Blanc on the fifth of 
July, accompanied by Jean Michel Cachat and Alexis 
Tournier, a statement confirmed by Dr. Paccard's manu- 
script. On his arrival at Chamonix, Saussure was 
greeted by heavy rain, which lasted for nearly a month, 
but his mind was made up, and he resolved to wait the 
entire season rather than run the risk of failure. At 
length the weather cleared, and the favourable moment 
arrived on the first of August. The Professor was ac- 
companied by his servant Tetu, and by eighteen guides, 
who carried his scientific instruments and the various 
other articles which he thought necessary for his ex- 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

pedition. His head guide was of course Jacques Balmat, 
the others Pierre Bahiiat and Marie Couttet, his com- 
panions on the previous attempt from the western side, 
Jean Michel Cachat and Alexis Tournier (who with 
Jacques Balmat had gained the summit on the fifth of 
July), Jacques Balmat, a servant of Madame Couteran 
the innkeeper, our old friend Jean Baptiste Lombard, 
Alexis Balmat, five guides of the well-known name of 
Devouassoud, Frangois Couttet, Francois Ravenel, Pierre 
Francois Favret, Jean Pierre Cachat, and Jean Michel 
Tournier. De Saussure's eldest son was earnestly 
desirous of accompanying him, but it was thought that 
he was not strong enough for so arduous an enterprise, 
and he was left by his father to make observations at 
the Priory corresponding with those intended to be made 
on the mountain. 

The unwieldy party started for the Montagne de la 
Cofe on the first of August, 1787. A tent was carried for 
Saussure, who desired to spend the first night on the 
summit of the Montagne de la Cote. 

In the month of August as a rule this ridge is free from 
snow, and the whole party arrived safely at the sleeping 
place in five or six hours without the slightest difficulty 
or danger, and passed a comfortable night. Saussure 
had ridden a mule nearly as far as the foot of the ridge, 
the rest of the party going on foot. He calls particular 
attention to the rock known as the Bee a I'Oiseau, and 
says that he was told that a shepherd had once laid a 
wager that he would sit upon the point of the beak. He did 
-so, but, losing his balance fell, and was killed on the spot. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Their sleeping place was of course the spot utilised by 
Paccard and Balmat on the evening previous to their 
first ascent. They here bade adieu to dry land, and 
embarked on the great solitudes of snow which stretch 
continuously to the summit. 

Three of the guides having gone on to explore the 
glacier, one of them — Jean Marie Couttet — according to 
Saussure, nearly lost his life through a snow bridge 
breaking and letting him fall into a deep crevasse, but 
fortunately being roped to the two others he was drawn 
up without injury. On their return, particulars were 
eagerly asked for, "as if from spies, as to the movements 
of an armed enemy." Couttet quietly told his story, 
which made some of the guides grave. The braver 
members made light of it, but to the others the matter 
seemed too serious for jesting. 

The following morning they started at half-past six. 
They had all wished to start earlier, but were delayed by 
the guides disputing as to the weight each was to carry. 
They then crossed the glacier in the direction of the rock 
ridge in the centre of the snow-fields, then and now 
known as the " Grands Mulcts." The glacier they found 
difficult and dangerous — filled with deep and irregular 
crevasses which could only be crossed by snow bridges. 
In some cases where crevasses were large and open they 
went to the bottom of them, and cut steps in the hard ice 
to mount the opposite side. 

The three leading guides were roped together, but the 
others were unroped, each stepping exactly into the 
footholes of the guide in front. All the guides were now 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

in the highest spirits, talking, laughing, and jocosely 
defying one another. 

Saussure passed the place where Couttet had fallen the 
previous evening, and was horrorstruck at the danger 
which in hio opinion the guide had incurred, the hole in 
the snow being six or seven feet wide, and revealing a 
chasm of unknown depth. They found the passage of 
the glacier so tortuous and difficult that it took them 
three hours to go from their sleeping place to the lower 
rocks of the Grands Mulcts ridge, although the distance 
was not more than a quarter of a league in a direct line. 
A long halt was here made for breakfast, some of the 
guides desiring to put off their departure as long as 
possible. But Saussure was inexorable, and they started 
again at eleven o'clock, not reaching the highest rocks in 
the chain until half-past one. They recognised the town 
of Nyon and the range of the Jura, each sight such as these 
filling the whole caravan with joy, being good evidence 
of the progress made. Regaining the snow, they stopped 
on the brink of a great abyss which seemed to bar their 
progress. While inspecting this difficulty, an unfortunate 
accident happened, for Tetu, Saussure's servant, dropped 
the foot of the barometer which he was carrying, and it 
shot like an arrow into the crevasse. The Professor was 
terribly disappointed, for the article in question was 
useful for several purposes. Some of the guides offered 
to descend into the crevasse and search for the missing 
object. Saussure hesitated to subject them to any risk, 
but one of them took a rope while the others lowered 
him down, and he soon discovered the article and brought 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

it up in triumph. Saussure was, however, uneasy on 
another account, for he knew that his party could be 
seen through the Chamonix telescopes, that his move- 
ments were being watched, and he feared that his family 
would imagine that one of the party, and not a scientific 
instrument, had been entombed. However, it seems that 
this incident was not even noticed from below. 

They then reached the last rock of the isolated ridge, 
where they all dined with good appetites, but there was 
no water, an inconvenience which was soon remedied, 
for the guides stuck great pieces of snow on the rocks 
exposed to the sun, the snow soon melted, and each 
member of the party had as much water as he wanted. 
The guides could not for some time be induced to leave, 
for why should not they sleep where at least moderate 
comfort was to be found ? But Saussure said No ! The 
guides remonstrated, but he insisted, fearing that other- 
wise the third day's work would be too laborious. He 
had fully determined to camp out in the middle of the 
snow, and camp out he would. The guides thought that 
the cold at night would be frightful in those upper 
regions, and some of them, notwithstanding Balmat's 
experiences, really believed they would perish. But 
Saussure stuck to his guns, and declared that he would 
go on at any cost with those who would follow him, 
that there was no real danger in sleeping on the snow, 
that if they kept together they would be quite warm, and 
that by digging a hole in the snow and covering it with 
the tent all risk would be averted. At length reassured, 
they set out. Passing the first plateau soon after leaving 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

the rocks, they found the remains of enormous avalanches 
which had fallen from the Dome du Gouter. At four 
o'clock they reached the second of the great snow 
plateaux, which had to be crossed. In fact they had 
arrived at the spot now known as the Petit Plateau, some 
twelve thousand feet above sea level, or as Saussure tells 
us, "ninety toises higher than the Peak of Teneriffe." 
Here the tent was pitched for the night, after a com- 
paratively easy day, for they had taken less than ten 
hours from the Montague de la Cote, including numerous 
halts. The modern mountaineer in fine weather and 
good conditions of snow would make the same journey 
in half the time 1 They feared to go higher because of 
avalanches, the remains of which, as we have seen, had 
been encountered on their way up ; some had fallen 
since Balmat's last journey on the fifth of July, and these 
lay around the sleeping place. The great difficulty was 
to pitch the tent so that they could brave the night cold, 
which some of the guides imagined would be terrible. 
They had passed avalanches too, of which traces were on 
all sides, and were afraid that the weight of so many men 
in so small a compass, and the heat of their bodies, 
would melt the snow and entomb them in the middle of 
the night. At length a place was found which appeared 
free from all ordinary dangers, and the guides began to 
dig out a hole wherein to pass the night. But soon the 
effects of the rarity of the air were felt. They could do 
little or nothing ; one man after working for two or three 
minutes had to give up, and his place taken by another. 
One of the guides who had gone to fill a barrel with 

8i G 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

some water which they had seen in a crevasse, came 
back without the water and passed the night in great 
suffering. The experience was a novel one for most of 
the party, and Saussure says that, accustomed as he was 
to mountam air, his fatigue in making observations was 
extraordinary, that he had a burning thirst and could get 
no water to quench it, as what they carried with them 
was frozen, and their little brazier was insufficient to melt 
snow enough for so large a party. It was a striking 
sleeping place. In front was Mont Blanc ; on the east 
the great heights of the Midi, the Maudit, and the Tacul 
— on the west the Dome du Gouter, snow everywhere of 
dazzling brightness contrasting strangely with the black 
sky. No living thing to be seen — no trace of vegetation 
—the home of cold and silence. '' When I thought of 
Paccard and Balmat being the first to reach these 
solitudes at the close of day, without assistance, without 
shelter, without being certain even that men could live 
there, and yet resolutely pursuing their journe}^, I was 
full of admiration at their courage and strength of 

The Professor did not altogether like his surroundings. 
It was agreeable enough, he says, to find oneself at the 
end of a day at a good sleeping place, where the fresh- 
ness of the evening only dissipated fatigue ; but on these 
elevated snow-fields, at the end of a laborious day, in an 
extremely low temperature, affected by the rarity of the 
air, hardly knowing what to do, the strength and courage 
born of exercise seemed to vanish. 

Saussure's pledges to his guides were amply redeemed. 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

From fear of the cold, the tent was fixed with scru- 
pulous care, and he suffered so much from heat and 
the bad air that he had to go outside to breathe ! The 
moon was brilliant in a sky of ebony, the planet Jupiter 
radiant behind the peaks to the east of Mont Blanc, and 
the reflected light from the snow-fields was so dazzling 
that only stars of the first and second magnitude could 
be seen. At last they tried to sleep, but could not for 
the noise of a great avalanche rolling over part of their 
previous route. It was not very cold, however, for at 
daybreak the thermometer marked only three degrees 
below freezing point. 

The next morning they did not start till late, having to 
melt snow for their breakfast and their journey. It was 
drunk as soon as melted, and the men, who took special 
care of the wine, constantly stole the water which should 
have been kept in reserve. They then began to climb 
towards the third and last plateau (the Grand Plateau), 
on reaching which they turned to the left to gain the 
rock, now known as the Rochers Rouges, to the east of 
the summit. A hut is now erected here which can be 
seen distinctly from Chamonix in clear weather. Saus- 
sure calls the Rochers Rouges the left shoulder, or the 
second staircase of Mont Blanc. There are other rocks 
cropping out between the Rochers Rouges and the 
summit, but these appear to have received but little 
attention. The snow was very steep, 39 degrees in some 
places, and abutting on precipices, and was so hard that 
the leaders had to cut steps to ensure a foothold. The 
ascent of this bit took two hours, "although only 250 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

toises high." It was the famous " ancien passage " 
which Balmat had discovered and which, lying to the 
south of the "Corridor," gives a steep and sometimes 
very dangerous access from the Grand Plateau to the 
summit of the Rochers Rouges. Coming to the last 
rock, they turned to the right and climbed the final ridge, 
which is inclined at an angle of 28 or 29 degrees and is 
not dangerous, but the air was so rare that their strength 
was soon exhausted, and Saussure could not walk more 
than fifteen or sixteen paces without stopping to take 
breath. From time to time he almost fainted, and was 
obliged to sit down, but as soon as regular breathing 
returned he regained strength, and on beginning to walk 
again it seemed as if he could rush to the summit. All 
the guides, whatever pains they took, were similarly 
affected. Saussure took every possible precaution to 
avoid fatigue. Two guides used the utmost efforts to 
ensure his safety and comfort. The inevitable alpen- 
stocks, eight or ten feet long, were held by one guide 
in front and another behind, while the Professor walked 
between the two, resting on the barrier from time to 
time as occasion required. He now knew that success 
was certain, the weather being magnificent, and the 
climb before him neither steep nor dangerous. They 
took a little food, sitting on the rocks, but both bread 
and meat were frozen. 

After a prolonged halt at nine o'clock they resumed 
their march. Saussure went very slowly, constantly 
resting on the alpenstocks ; his limbs almost refused to 
aid him, and he lamented the time that was being lost 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

while he might have been making observations. The 
only thing that cheered him was the cool breath of the 
north wind. About halfway up the last slope they came 
to the final rocks which protrude through the snow. 
The last elfort was the most fatiguing of all, but at 
length with infinite difficulty he realised the dream of 
a lifetime and stood upon the summit of Mont Blanc. 
He confesses it to have been without the pleasure he had 
hoped for ; the chief joy was that his anxiety had ceased ; 
the recollection of his suffering caused a feeling of irrita- 
tion. At the very moment when his efforts were crowned 
with success, he admits he was more angry than pleased ! 
The summit was gained at eleven o'clock.^ He at 
once turned and looked down to Chamonix, where he 
had left his wife, his son, and his two sisters-in-law. 
He knew that they had watched him, following his steps 
with the greatest anxiety, and he rejoiced to see the flag 
flying which they had promised to unfurl the moment 
they saw him on the summit. He then devoted his 
mind to those observations and experiments which 
alone gave any real value to his enterprise. He feared, 
however, to be unable to do more than a fraction of 
what he had intended, remembering that even where he 
had slept every experiment had caused great fatigue, 
partly because, without thinking, a man held his breath, 
and as the rarity of the air had to be counterbalanced 
by more frequent respiration, he was obliged to stop and 
breathe after he had observed, as if he had been running. 

I Note. — Paccard says 10.50. Also that Saussure started with nineteen guides 
He evidently included the sei vant Tetu. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

He then turned his attention to the view, and particularly 
to the peaks which greeted him from the Italian side. 
He satisfied himself, as many subsequent observers have 
done, that the Mediterranean could not be seen from the 
summit, but in the opposite direction he had no doubt 
that Dijon was visible, and even Langres. 

A keen north wind was blowing and the cold was 
severe, but descending a little towards the south the 
whole party found the temperature extremely pleasant, 
and most of the guides slept peacefully in the sunlight, 
whilst the Professor at last made his observations. 

One of the most interesting was on the real colour of 
the sky. Every one knows that the skj as seen from 
great elevations appears of a much deeper blue than as 
seen from below. Saussure had caused pieces of paper 
to be painted with sixteen different shades of blue, and 
these papers u^ere left both at Geneva and at Chamonix, 
and also brought to the summit. At noon on the day 
of the ascent the colour of the sky at Geneva was of the 
seventh shade, at Chamonix between the fifth and sixth, 
and on Mont Blanc between the first and second — or the 
deepest blue, " du roi." 

Saussure made interesting experiments on the boiling 
point of water, on the temperature of the snow, and on 
the quickness of the pulse. The pulse of Pierre Balmat 
gave 98 beats a minute, that of his servant 112, and his 
own 100 ; whilst at Chamonix, after rest, the same pulses 
beat 49, 60, and 72 respectively. All were feverish, 
and had no desire for wine, spirits, or even food. 

He remained on the summit for three hours and a 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

half, but some of the guides descended earlier to seek 
a denser air. He reached the Rochers Rouges in three- 
quarters of an hour from the top. The descent of the 
"ancien passage " was easy and pleasant, the snow being 
in excellent order. They passed the Petit Plateau where 
they had slept, and reaching the first rock of the Grands 
Mulcts chain, which Saussure appropriately christened 
" Le Rocher de I'heureux retour," determined to spend 
the third night there. Here they had a cheerful supper, 
and Saussure slept well on a little mattress that formed 
part of his baggage. It was then, for the first time, that 
he felt the rapture of having accomplished the task which 
he had set himself twenty-seven long years ago, a task 
which he had given up and resumed, and which had 
been a source of constant trouble and anxiety to his 
family. His design had become indeed a madness ; 
he could never look upon Mont Blanc without grief 
and pain, and when at last the summit was gained his 
satisfaction was incomplete. It was still less when he 
turned to descend, for he thought only of the unaccom- 
plished. But in the silence of the night, resting at his 
happy rocks, his mind turned to the observations which 
he had made, to the mighty panorama he had seen 
from the summit, and he felt for the first time how 
true and unalloyed was his satisfaction. 

On the fourth of August, the fourth day of the journey, 
they started at six in the morning and threaded their way 
through the seracs and crevasses of the glaciers of 
Bossons and Taconnay ; so many changes had taken 
place, even in the short space of forty-eight hours, that 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

they could not recognise the route by which they had 
ascended, and were often obliged to retrace their steps. 
A great ice-fall took place on the glacier, which filled 
them with consternation, but at half-past nine they were 
again on the solid ground of the Montague de la Cote, 
and all difficulty and danger was at an end. In about 
three hours more they regained the Priory, every member 
of the party safe and sound. 

The pertinacious M. Bourrit was anxious to have 
shared in this expedition, but Saussure insisted upon 
going alone. The day before he started he had made 
a pledge to Bourrit that he would leave his tent and eight 
of his guides on the plateau, but the guides were tired 
and declined. Bourrit had gone to meet the descending 
party. He does not tell us where the meeting took 
place, but he records that he was obliged to return with 
Saussure after " fifteen leagues of useless walking " — an 
absurd exaggeration — but he determined to start again 
on the following day. He made arrangements accord- 
ingly and reached the summit of the Montague de la 
Cote, but the weather changed and again he failed. He, 
however, succeeded in crossing the Col du Geant into 
Italy, reserving Mont Blanc for the following year. 

The Professor and his party had a touching reception 
on their return. The various guides were embraced by 
their families and friends, who assembled in crowds to 
congratulate them on their safe arrival. Madame de 
Saussure, her son, and her sisters, were relieved at length 
from their long and painful anxiety, and many of the 
Professor's friends came expressly from Geneva to share 


The Conquest of Mont Blanc 

in his triumph. The whole village was en fete. The 
victory was a memorable one and was well deserved. 
Saussure returned to his home at Genthod, and recorded 
that he could now look on Mont Blanc with true delight, 
without experiencing the trouble and anxiety which the 
sight of the mountain had hitherto given him. 

In reflecting upon this celebrated ascent in the light 
of modern knowledge, the chief surprise is that so large 
a party ever succeeded in reaching the summit. No 
chain is stronger than its weakest link, and in this case, 
though many suffered, no individual succumbed. But 
none of the four days during which the expedition lasted 
made undue demands upon the staying power of the 
party. Again, the weather was throughout exquisitely 
beautiful, as so often happens after a long period of mist 
and storm. The snow was in excellent order, and the 
atmosphere was as perfect as could have been desired. 

No true mountaineer will ever undervalue this great 
achievement ; not though in these later days men have 
crossed the mountain over the summit from Italy into 
France ; not though they have climbed it without 
guides, nor even in rare cases from base to summit and 
back again in a single day. The real glory must always 
rest with the Pioneers. If we go more easily than they 
did, what wonder, for have we not the benefit of their 
experience'? If we see further, what wonder; do we 
not stand on their shoulders ? 

So ended this memorable struggle with the hitherto 
unknown forces of nature. The Peasant, the Doctor, and 
the Philosopher had alike been successful. The grand- 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

son of Saussure now occupies the old house at Genthod, 
where, as his guest, I have handled the coat and the 
shoes and the alpenstock used by his illustrious relative 
on his ascent more than a hundred years ago. Jacques 
Balmat lived until 1834, ^^^ ^^^^^ ^^"^ ^^^^ seventy-third 
year from a fall whilst searching for legendary gold 
among the cliffs of the Fer a Cheval above Sixt. A 
handsome bronze medallion has been erected to his 
memory by the French Geographical Society in front 
of the old church at Chamonix, and two most admirable 
statues of Saussure and Balmat, the latter with out- 
stretched hand pointing to the summit of Mont Blanc, 
now stand in the village by the banks of the rushing 
Arve, as a perpetual record of their common triumph. 
Poor IMichel Gabriel Paccard, the village doctor, lies 
buried in the ancient churchyard without even a stone 
to mark the place of his rest. 


StatUL'Siof Siiussure and Halmat bv Salmson. 

[To face page 90. 



IT is difficult to ascertain with accuracy the exact 
amount of credit to be attributed to Dr. Paccard 
and Jacques Balmat respectively in connection with the 
first ascent of Mont Blanc. Balmat, as we have 
seen, took all the credit to himself. It was he who, 
according to his own story, allowed the Doctor to 
accompany him. It was he who wanted a witness to his 
own triumph. It was he who, having first ascended 
alone, returned to seek the half -frozen and helpless 
Doctor at the foot of the Calotte, and dragged him by 
force to the summit. But is the story of Balmat to be 
relied upon ? 

It has been shown that the account of the ascent, 
which has been generally accepted as authoritative, was 
dictated by Balmat to Alexandre Dumas in 1832, forty- 
six years after the event took place. In the interval 
Balmat had become a great man, and the story was 
not likely to have lost colour by the lapse of time. 
Dumas tells us that when he arrived at Chamonix 
at night, after walking eight leagues, he only thought 
of three things, which he recommended to all who 
followed the same route : " To take a bath, to get 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

some supper, and to send an invitation to dinner to 
M. Balmat who is called Mont Blanc," and whom 
he further described by a characteristic hyperbole 
as the " Christopher Columbus of Chamonix." An 
invitation was duly sent, and on returning from 
an excursion to the Mer de Glace, Dumas saw an 
old man of about seventy seated on a bench. He at 
once came to the conclusion that the stranger was the 
guest he was expecting, and went up to him holding out 
his hand. He was right ; it was Jacques Balmat, " that 
intrepid guide who first set foot on the summit of Mont 
Blanc and who prepared the way for Saussure, courage 
in this case preceding science." They had a little feast, 
the novelist's own guide being one of the party. At 
dessert, Dumas referred to Balmat's exploits, and the old 
man at once became talkative. He required no pressing, 
and wished nothing better than to relate the details of his 
perilous journey. The other guide remained silent, he 
had probably often heard the story before. Dumas took 
out his notebook and his pencil, and wrote down the tale 
already presented to the reader. When he had finished, 
Dumas asked, "And Doctor Paccard, was he really 
blind ? " " Well, I can only tell you that when he died, 
at the age of seventy-nine, he could read without spec- 
tacles, but I must confess his eyes always remained 
horribly bloodshot." " From the effects of the ascent ? " 
asked Dumas. " Oh, no ! " was the reply ; " to tell you 
the truth, the honest gentleman became somewhat 
addicted to ' lifting his elbow.' So saying, Balmat 
finished his third bottle." 


Paccard versus Balmat 

It is a great pity that the poor Doctor was not also 
a member of the party, in which case the details of the 
story would probably have been varied. 

It is clear that Balmat was an intense egotist. His 
boasts of his famous calf, his grand legs, his stomach like 
cast-iron, and his ability to go three days without eating, 
are proof enough of that. Between the desire of the 
guide to make the most of his recitation, and the novelist 
of his story, the account is full of inaccuracies. " I had 
come to the edge of the great crevasse in which three 
men had died," says Balmat, " and out of which Marie 
Couttet had been pulled up. Ah ! I said, is that you ? " 
Now these three men perished in the Hamel catastrophe 
which happened in 1820, whilst Balmat's climb was made 
in 1786. He must have confused his own recollections 
with the knowledge which he ultimately gained. Again, 
the shopkeeper who was taken into confidence was told, 
says Balmat, to look out on the following morning on 
the Dome du Gouter side of the mountain. This was 
absurd, as their intended route was not by way of the 
Dome du Gouter but by the Rochers Rouges, not by the 
western but by the eastern side of the summit. This, 
however, is a point on which Dumas might have fallen 
into error. According to Balmat's account, he treated 
Paccard almost like a child, and speaks slightingly of 
his personal capacity. But Paccard was then five years 
older than Balmat, being at the time of the ascent 
twenty-nine years of age, whilst Balmat was only 
twenty-four. Paccard was known to be a competent 
mountaineer, and there is no evidence, save Balmat's 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

word, to justify the assumption that Paccard was less 
competent than his companion. Balmat was again 
wrong about the Doctor's age. According to the 
Chamonix registers he was born on the first of Feb- 
ruary, 1757, and died on the twenty-first of March, 
1827, so that he was only seventy years of age, and 
not seventy-nine. 

What is needed is to find out the story as told by 
Paccard, and to compare it with that dictated by Balmat 
to Dumas. That Paccard's story was written and printed 
is beyond all doubt, but, unfortunately, it has been 
irretrievably lost. Probably it was printed for private 
circulation and not for sale. The most careful search 
has been made at Geneva and Lausanne, at Chamonix, 
Bonneville and Annecy, but v/ithout success. It is not 
in the possession of any member of the family of 
Saussure, it cannot be heard of in Oxford or Cambridge, 
in London, Paris or Turin. Saussure writing in 1787, 
says, "The success of the enterprise is known to the 
public by the accounts which have been given by 
Doctor Paccard and M. Bourrit." And M. Leschevin, 
in 181 2, gives the exact title of Paccard's publication, 
" Premier voyage fait a la cime de la plus haute 
montagne du continent, 1786, in 8vo." He adds that 
his portrait was painted by M. Backler d'Albe with 
this inscription : 

" Scandit inaccessos brumali sidere monies, 
Nil hyemis coelive memor," ' 

' " Voyage a Geneve et dnns la Vallee de Chamouni," P. X. Lesche\'in, Geneve 
chez Guers, 1S12 


Paccard versus Balmat 

It is singular that though prints from this portrait are 
well known, Paccard's story has disappeared. 

The question is whether it is true that Balmat com- 
pleted his ascent alone, and then returned to where 
he left the Doctor, and dragged him up afterwards. 
In the first place the story is highly improbable. The 
wind on the day of the ascent was extremely cold. It 
was blowing from the north, otherwise the Doctor's 
hat could not have " careered towards Courmayeur." 
Even on the Grand Plateau " the wind became more 
and more boisterous," and on arriving at the " Petits 
Mulets," " a more violent gust obliged us to lie down on 
our stomachs to prevent our following the hat." Clearly 
it was at the Petits Mulets, or about an hour from 
the summit, that Balmat, according to his own account, 
left the Doctor and continued his journey alone, "telling 
him to be sure not to stand still." " I had hardly gone 
thirty paces," he adds, "when, on turning round, I saw 
him actually sitting down on the snow." Now Balmat 
admits that in continuing the ascent " he had to stop 
every ten minutes and vcheeze like one with consumption. 
The cold got worse and worse, and to go a quarter of 
a league took an hour," He then says that after another 
quarter of an hour he saw the Doctor far off and shouted 
to him but could get no reply, but that ultimately he 
forced him to the summit, where they arrived soon after 
si.\ o'clock, and, "though the sun shone brilliantly, we 
saw the stars shining in the deep-blue sky." The latter 
statement was probably a flourish of Dumas. It may be 
assumed, therefore, that from the time Balmat left his 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

companion to the time he returned to him, was at least 
an hour and a quarter, more probably an hour and a half. 
The cold was excessive, and their hands must have been 
already frost-bitten. Paccard always stated that he and 
Balmat did not part company, and arrived on the summit 
together. It is scarcely credible that the Doctor could 
have survived an hour and a half's exposure whilst sitting 
alone on the snow in the bitter cold, still less that after 
such an interval he could have resumed his journey with 
success. Even a benevolent critic, on carefully con- 
sidering Balmat's story, must feel disposed to put the 
tongue of incredulity into the cheek of derision. 

The contemporary evidence is very interesting, but it 
gives no support to Balmat's assertion. Paccard's own 
statement in his diary is, '' Our journey of the 8th of 
August, 1786 ; arrived six hours twenty-three minutes 
evening ; set out six hours fifty-seven minutes ; rested 
thirty-four minutes." He was evidently in good condition 
enough to make a very careful note upon the summit, 
and it is known that he observed the barometer. 

When Balmat went to Geneva to convey to Saussure 
his news of the first ascent, one would think that he 
would have informed the Professor of the exact details, 
and certainly of the incompetency of the Doctor if such 
had been really shown. But Saussure says not a word 
about the double ascent of the Calotte, and evidently was 
under the belief that the Doctor was the originator of the 
successful expedition. In his memorable letter to Tairraz 
he says, " I wish to attempt the same route ; not that I 
flatter myself that I shall be able to reach the summit, for 


Paccard versus Balmat 

I have neither the youth nor the agihty of the Doctor. 
Put Jacques Balmat, who accompanied Dr. Paccard, at 
the head of the expedition and give him a good payment." 
It is perfectly clear that any account of his companion 
given by Balmat to Saussure within a week of the ascent 
is far more trustworthy than that which he gave to 
Dumas after an interval of forty-six years. 

Again, Saussure, in his brochure published in 1787, 
tells us " that in the previous year two inhabitants of 
Chamonix, M. Paccard, a Doctor of Medicine, and the 
guide Jacques Balmat, had first reached the summit." 
In the library at Geneva are contained copies of several 
letters written by Charles Bonnet, the uncle of Saussure, 
to various persons between 1786 and 1792. One of these 
etters was WTitten to Count Bielke of Stockholm, from 
Genthod near Geneva ; it bears date the eighteenth of 
August, 1786, and contains this passage : "You know, 
M. le Comte, that no one has yet reached the summit of 
Mont Blanc. On the eighth instant a young Doctor of 
Savoy, accompanied by a single Montagnard, had first 
the glory of attaining that summit, and of reaching the 
highest point of our ancient continent. His name is 
Paccard. The new route which he has discovered is not 
dangerous, and it is very different from the one which 
my nephew Saussure had followed last year, and which 
had brought him to a height of 1,932 toises only. The 
Doctor thus has reached 2,426 toises above the 
Mediterranean. My nephew has received a ver}'^ careful 
map of the new route, which he showed me a few days 
ago, and he is preparing to take advantage of it shortly, 

97 H 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

in order to follow the steps of the Doctor and to make 
more precise observations. 

M. Bourrit also adds to our information on the subject. 
He saw Balmat at Geneva when the latter visited Saussure 
to bring the news of his success. Bourrit wrote to a 
friend on the twentieth of September, 1786. This letter, 
which was printed, but which is extremely rare, gives the 
first published account of the expedition. Bourrit says 
that " the first news of the ascent was brought to Geneva 
by MM. les Barons de Gersdorff and de Meyer, who 
were at Chamonix at the time and witnesses of the 
enterprise." He describes his meeting with Balmat, 
"who still carried on his face the honourable marks 
of his intrepidity." 

He goes on to refer at great length to his own previous 
expeditions, and to Balmat's discovery of the right route 
to the summit. He says that after the discovery, Balmat 
was attended by Dr. Paccard, to whom he confided his 
hopes of success ; then he describes the enterprise, how 
they slept at La Cote, and how on the following day, 
starting at four in the morning, they slowly but steadily 
ascended the glacier ; how the distance made them 
despair ; how they feared that the day would not be 
long enough for their purpose ; how the Doctor began 
to lose breath, and how his more hardy companion 
encouraged him ; how they expected to fail ; how at 
length the summit came in sight; how they dreaded that 
the real summit might be further still ; how Balmat 
advanced alone to make certain, and found that they were 
only a few steps from it ; how he shouted to announce 


Paccard versus Balmat 

his triumph ; /ioii' he descended to meet Paccard, and how, 
aiding and animating him, final success was achieved. 
Then adds Bourrit, "Chamonix contemplated them, 
strangers from below saw them through their glasses ; 
they had followed them on their march with inquietude, 
and they rejoiced at the sight of the two little beings 
upon so lofty a pinnacle of the globe." Now here is a 
story told personally by Balmat to Bourrit within a week 
after the ascent occurred. There is not a word in it 
about the poor Doctor being left by himself for an hour 
and a half sitting half-frozen in the snow ! 

Again, in the year 1787 the Rev. William Coxe spent 
some time at Chamonix. He took great interest in the 
early attempts to ascend the mountain, and must have 
known every detail of this expedition. His visit was 
only one year after the event happened, when the cir- 
cumstances were fresh in the minds of the villagers. He 
says that "about six in the afternoon they at length 
attained the summit of Mont Blanc, and stood trium- 
phantly upon a spot of ground which no one had reached 
before. They remained on the summit no more than 
half an hour, the cold being so intense that the provision 
was frozen in their pockets, and the ink congealed in 
their inkhorns. Dr. Paccard had just time to observe the 
state of the barometer." ^ 

M. Leschevin not only gives Paccard equal credit with 
Balmat, but he tells us that the former had determined on 
the expedition for three years previous to his ascent, that 
he had three routes in view, but that Balmat induced him 

' ''Travels in Switzerland," William Coxe, London, 1789, vol. ii. p. 16. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

to accept that which was ultimately followed. Balmat's 
portrait was subsequently painted, and as if to turn all 
doubt into certainty the following statement is set out at 
the foot of the portrait : 

"The eighth of August, 1786, at six in the evening -the 
Doctor Paccard, accompanied by Jacques Balmat, crystal 
hunter of the Valley of Chamoiiix, reached the highest 
summit of Mont Blanc till then inaccessble, after fourteen 
hours of walking on the ice." 

" Balmat ought to have an honest reward," says Bourrit. 
" Strangers have often promised something handsome to 
the man who first ascended the mountain, but from what 
I hear I fear that they have forgotten it ; at present he is 
without recompense. He has exposed his life or at least 
his health, and perhaps he is already much altered. His 
companion has no need of reward, his father is one of 
the richest men in the valley ; besides, it is not the same 
with an amateur as with a guide." 

Balmat was, in fact, well rewarded. He received not 
only a considerable sum from M. de Saussure, but a large 
gift from the King of Sardinia (fifty pistoles of Piedmont), 
another from the Baron de Gersdorff, and a public sub- 
scription was opened in his honour, to which a great 
number of persons contributed. 

The very year of Saussure's expedition Balmat built 
a house at the village of Les Pelerins out of the moneys 
he so received. The house still exists, and now bears 
this inscription : — " Jacques Balmat a fait batir cette 
maison en 1787, il I'a habitee jusqu'a sa mort en 1834." 

It was not long, however, after the ascent before 






Jacques Balmat, by Wichel, from an old lithograph. 

[7\) fihc piigi- loo. 

Paccard versus Balmat 

Balmat claimed all the credit for it. An expostulation 
from an anonymous writer which appeared in the 
Journal de Lausanne on the twenty-fourth of February, 
1787, was evidently an answer to some statements con- 
tained in the first account written by Bourrit, and above 
referred to. In this communication it was asserted that 
Paccard really discovered the true route, and that both 
arrived together on the summit. Bourrit defended Balmat 
in the same journal in the month following, but Paccard 
retorted by producing a certificate signed by Balmat in the 
presence of witnesses, which amply bore out all Paccard's 
assertions. The certificate appeared in the Journal de 
Lausanne on the twelfth of May, 1787. It is given in full 
by Mr. Whymper in his " Guide to Chamonix and Mont 
Blanc," and need not be repeated. Mr. Whymper, who 
properly takes for granted the fact that the certificate was 
signed by Balmat, asks " whether he knew what he was 
signing." The "old wolf of the mountains" was not 
very likely to have given praise to Paccard if it had not 
been due to him. These personal recriminations and the 
antagonism which gave rise to them, form a blot on a 
story otherwise honourable to both men. Unfortunately 
they cannot be ignored, if we would do equal justice 
to the heroes of the most famous of all the feats of 

We must revert once more to the Dumas narrative. 
There is no doubt that Balmat discovered the first route 
to the summit, and that this discovery was made after 
he had been deserted by the other guides under the 
circumstances already stated. He invented the "ancien 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

passage," which he cHmbed alone ; and on reaching the 
Rochers Rouges, he found that there was no real difficulty 
between that point and the summit. He was not on 
good terms with his fellows, and kept his discovery to 
himself, hoping that he would ultimately profit by it. 
But it is somewhat remarkable that not one word of the 
discovery of the " ancien passage " appears in the account 
which Dumas took down from Balmat's dictation. 

Payot's " Guide Itineraire au Mont Blanc," published 
in 1869, reproduces the story of Dumas almost verbatim, 
but contains in addition the following passage : 

" At last, when daybreak came, I was frozen, but 
by dint of friction, and practising the most absurd 
gymnastics, my limbs became more supple, and I was 
able to begin exploring once more. I had observed 
when descending to the Grand Plateau that halfway 
down there was an incline, steep it is true, but every- 
where accessible, and leading straight to the top of the 
Rochers Rouges. I decided to scale it ; but found it 
so steep and the snow so hard, that I could only hold 
on by making holes with the iron point of my stock. 
I succeeded in clinging to it, but I felt extreme weari- 
ness and fatigue. It was not an amusing thing to be 
suspended by one leg, so to speak, with an abyss under 
one, and to be obliged to cut the ice with the already 
blunted point of an alpenstock. At length, by force of 
patience and perseverance, I gained the Rochers Rouges. 
' Oh r said I, 'from this spot to the summit there is 
nothing more to hinder you ; all is joined together like 
one piece of ice.' But I was again frozen through and 


Paccard versus Balmat 

through, and almost dead with hunger and thirst. It was 
late, I must descend, but this time with a certainty of 
succeeding during the first spell of propitious weather." 

Why was not this paragraph, intimating so important a 
discovery, included in the Dumas narrative. And when 
was it first made public ? Precisely the same story is 
given in " Les Pastes du Mont Blanc " by Stephen 
d'Arve, published in 1876 ; and d'Arve states that it was 
" textually transcribed from the notes left by Balmat to 
his heirs." No such notes were ever printed, though 
some were undoubtedly written. Indeed, I have a letter 
addressed to M. Gabriel Loppe by the w^U-known guide, 
Auguste Balmat, and dated from the Eagle's Nest at Sixt 
on the twenty-eighth of May, 1862, in which he says 
"that he has found nearly the whole account of the first 
ascent of Mont Blanc written by the hand of Jacques 

These accounts are genuine, for there is another bio- 
graphy of Jacques Balmat of great interest and rarity to 
which attention must be called, and of which I am 
fortunate enough to have a copy in my possession. 
Let us see what Michel Carrier has to say.^ 

Michel Carrier was a well-known guide of Chamonix, 
and the son of that Joseph Carrier who made the attempt 
in 1783. He was a great friend of Balmat, and he tells us 
that the account which he afterwards wrote, he obtained 
from Balmat's own mouth. 

According to Carrier, Balmat was one of the most well- 

' " Notice biographique sur Jacques Balmat dit Mout Blanc, par Michel Carrier.' 
Geneve, Gruaz, 1S54. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

tO"do amongst the agriculturists of the valley. He was 
gifted with a lively imagination and great courage, and 
was an intrepid crystal hunter. He tells us that Balmat 
and Marie Couttet tried to find a way to the summit from 
the side of the Col du Geant, and also from the side of 
the Glacier de Miage ; he relates at length the attempt to 
find out whether the route from the western side was as 
short as that from Chamonix, and how the other guides 
deserted Balmat when he went forward to inspect the 
Bosses route. How he passed the night alone on the 
Grand Plateau, and how he discovered the " ancien 
passage," and then he gives the full story of Balmat's 
discovery, omitted, as we have seen, in the Dumas narra- 
tive. So far as I am able to ascertain. Carrier's is the 
first printed account of the discovery of the "ancien 

But Carrier also throws great light upon the doings 
of Paccard and Balmat. He tells us that Paccard " was 
fond of all hazardous excursions," and that " he was not a 
doctor only, but a philosopher and naturalist of no small 
repute." His description of their ascent is, in the main, 
perfectly harmonious with that given by Dumas, but he 
concludes his account as follows : 

" They crossed the Petit Plateau without accident, and 
reached the Grand Plateau towards midday. From the 
Grand Plateau, verging towards the south, they arrived 
at the foot of the steep slope of snow where Balmat had 
been compelled to cut so many steps on his previous 
expedition. Although the surface of the snow was then 
softened by the sun, it took them at least two hours to 



Paccard versus Balmat 

scale it, and to arrive at the Rochers Rouges. Up to this 
time the rarity of the atmosphere and fatigue alone had 
incommoded them, but when they arrived at this point a 
very cold and violent wind from the north-east added to 
their discomfort. It was so strong that it tore away 
Paccard's hat, although it was firmly fastened with strings. 
However, hesitation was impossible. They must go on 
tuider penalty of being frozen on the spot. From this 
point to the summit, although the slope was not very 
steep, they panted painfully for breatli, which, added to 
the fatigue and the death-like cold which they endured, 
and to the violence of the wind, which forcibly retarded 
their progress, made their position infinitely perilous. In 
spite of such powerful reasons for discouragement their 
indomitable energy surmounted everything, and at four 
o'clock in the afternoon they reached the summit of the 
Colossus of the Alps." 

No evidence could be more weighty than that given by 
Carrier, and communicated to him, as he says, by Balmat 
himself. Carrier is wrong in giving four, instead of six, 
as the hour when the summit was attained, but that is a 
small matter. 

After this evidence the details of the ascent seem to be 
satisfactory and complete. The story that Balmat left 
Paccard on the snow and made his final effort alone, and 
then returned and took his companion to the top, must 
be abandoned, as a piece of Chamonix "blague," not 
uncommon in the village even in these days, but invented 
after the ascent by a man greedy for praise. The position 
of the Doctor must be rehabilitated. The two men 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

ascended the mountain for the first time together. No 
doubt Balmat was the stronger man of the two, probably 
he led all the way ; no doubt he inspired the Doctor with 
that animation of which he stood in need ; no doubt he 
was a few steps in advance on reaching the summit ; but 
every reasonable man must now admit that both the 
pioneers were equally entitled to the honour and credit 
of the undertaking. 

All praise must be given to Balmat for his discovery of 
the true route. He was alone. He was only twenty-four. 
The exertions he made when deserted by his companions, 
and his lying out in the open on the Grand Plateau at a 
time when it was believed that to sleep on the snow was 
certain death, form one of the finest pieces of moun- 
taineering on record. The first, ascent, too, was a 
brilliant and memorable performance. The mountain 
was practically unknown, the men were insufficiently 
equipped and clothed, whatever they had with them was 
carried on their own backs, they had no ice-axes, spec- 
tacles, or veils. As they started at four in the morning, 
they had fourteen hours of continuous ascent, an 
immense effort even when judged by modern standards. 
They set a noble example of courage, tenacity, and perse- 
verance, under adverse circumstances, and the story will 
be told, not without pride, to our children's children, 

" Far on in summers which we shall not see." 

Men now gaze with delight on the two beautiful statues 
of Jacques Balmat and Horace Benedict de Saussure with 
which Chamonix is adorned. They peruse with interest 


4*7 - ■ • ' ■'■r\. 

Tlic Medallion of JaC4UL'> Halinat at Chamoiiix. 

[7"i) /<7cf pn^e icX). 

Paccard versus Balmat 

the lineaments of the great guide on the medallion which 
faces the main street of the village. Is it too much to 
hope that tardy justice may yet be done to the Doctor, 
and that some similar memorial may keep green the 
memory of Michel Gabriel Paccard ? ^ 

' Note. — It will be remembered that in Paccard's account of the attempt of the 
seventh of June, 1786, he makes the mistake of calling Jacques Balmat "Joseph 
Balmat des Baux," and that " the one from Les Baux lagged a good deal behind." 
Probably at that time Dr. Paccard knew but little of Balmat. Of course it was 
Jacques Balmat who joined the other guides, and who lagged behind — to good 
purpose, as we have seen. Jacques Balmat was alwaj's known as of Les Baux, that 
being the name of the upper part of the village of Les Pelerins, where he resided. 



subsequent ascents of mont blanc — saussure 
to albert smith 

Colonel Mark Beaufoy, 1787 

THE fourth success on the mountain was gained by 
an EngHshraan, Colonel Mark Beaufoy. He was 
at Chamonix immediately after the ascent of Saussure, and 
hastened to follow so good an example. The Colonel was 
a well-known man. He was an officer in the Coldstream 
Guards, was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and is described 
in the first volume of Blackwood's Magazine as being a 
"Philosopher of considerable eminence." He was 1 the 
author of several books of some scientific interest, and 
late in life wrote a valuable work on Mexico. 

Four days after Saussure's return from his expedition 
the Colonel arrived at the foot of the great mountain. He 
had with him a few scientific mstruments, but was unable 
to obtain others which he required, in such a village as 
Chamonix. He was warned by the guides against the 
difficulties and dangers of the undertaking, and was told 
that the season was too late to hazard another attempt. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

Saussure had left, but Bourrit, who was still at Chamonix, 
and who had again, as we have seen, unsuccessfully 
attempted the climb, added his warnings to those of the 
guides. Colonel Beaufoy was not easily daunted ; he sent 
round the village to inquire who was willing to assist him, 
and ten guides responded favourably to his appeal. He 
engaged all of them, but does not record their names 
except that of Michel Cachat, " a fellow of great bodily 
strength and great vigour of mind, who had accompanied 
Saussure, and who desired to take the lead." It is clear, 
therefore, that Jacques Balmat was not a member of the 
party. The Colonel had a Swiss servant with him, and 
his caravan of twelve persons started on the eighth of 
August, 1787, with provisions for three days. They 
carried also a kettle, a chafing dish, a quantity of charcoal, 
a pair of bellows, a couple of blankets, a long rope, a 
hatchet, and a ladder. 

At seven in the morning the whole village assembled to 
see them off. The route taken is by no means clearly 
defined in the account of the expedition published thirty 
years afterwards by Colonel Beaufoy. The end of the 
first hour, he says, " brought us to the Glacier des Bossons, 
at which place the rapid ascent of the mountain first 
begins." Pursuing " their course along the ridge of rocks 
which forms the western side of this frozen lake," they 
arrived in four hours more at the second glacier " called 
the glacier of La Cote." There is no glacier of that name, 
but the point attained must undoubtedly have been the 
summit of the Montagne de la Cote, where previous ex- 
plorers had passed the first night of the excursion. The 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

route taken was the ordinary one, and Colonel Beaufoy 
states, as the fact is, that " the journey so far is neither 
laborious nor exposed to danger, unless that name should 
be given to the trifling hazard that arises from the stones 
and loose pieces of broken rock which the goats in leap- 
ing from one projection to another occasionally throw 
down." Here they rested for a time, and then crossed 
the glacier, all the party being well roped. They used 
their ladder to bridge over the crevasses, and with such 
assistance they made light of their difficulties, "some- 
times stopping in the middle of the ladder to look down 
in safety upon an abyss which baffled the range of vision, 
and from which the sound of the masses of ice that we 
repeatedly let fall in no instance ascended to the ear." 

Most of the party suffered from illness, some of the 
guides had disheartening sickness, and the Swiss servant 
was the most unfortunate of all. In four and a half hours 
from their halting place, they gained the new hut on the 
rocks of the Grands Mulets, which Beaufoy says " had 
been erected the previous year by the order and at 
the expense of M. de Saussure," so that it took nine hours 
and a half of actual walking to get from Chamonix to the 
Grands Mulets, not an unreasonable time for so large 
a party travelling by way of the Montague de la Cote. 
They then prepared for rest. Two of the guides preferred 
the open air, and throwing themselves down at the 
entrance of the hut, slept upon the rocks. Beaufoy was 
anxious to sleep also, but his thoughts were troubled with 
the apprehension that " although he had now completed 
the half of the journey," the vapours might collect upon 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

the summit of the mountain and frustrate all his hopes. At 
two o'clock the Colonel threw off his blankets and went 
outside the hut to be greeted by a brilliant star-lit sky, and 
to lind that the temperature was only eight degrees below 
freezing point. At three the party started, and after using 
the ladder to good purpose they made great progress, but 
suffered severely from an intolerable thirst. At seven they 
breakfasted, having passed the place where de Saussure 
slept on his second night, namely the Petit Plateau. 
Beaufoy tells us that their route was across the snow, but 
that " the chasms which the ice had formed, though less 
numerous than those which they had passed on the pre- 
ceding day, embarrassed their ascent." After a difficult 
climb, during which the hatchet was constantly employed, 
they reached the Grand Plateau. An almost irresistible 
desire to sleep came on. Beaufoy's spirits left him, he 
became quite indifferent, he wished to lie down, he blamed 
himself for attempting the expedition, and thought of 
turning back without accomplishing his purpose. Many 
of the guides seemed to have lost all strength both of mind 
and body. At last, " with a sort of apathy which scarcely 
admitted the sense of joy," they reached the summit about 
half-past ten. 

Six of the guides and the Swiss servant fell flat upon 
their faces and were immediately asleep. Beaufoy envied 
them their repose, but his anxiety to obtain a good obser- 
vation for ascertaining the latitude of the mountain 
conquered his wishes for a similar indulgence. The view 
was magnificent, the day being absolutely fine and not 
a single cloud in the sky. The Colonel fixed the latitude 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

at 450,49'', 59" north, made some further interesting 
observations, and carefully observed the mountains of 
Lombardy, "one of which (Monte Rosa) appears of an 
altitude but little inferior to that of Mont Blanc." 

He remained two hours upon the summit and was 
(from some unexplained cause) nearly six hours in 
regaining his sleeping place. In the morning he suffered 
terribly from inflamed eyes, and was rebuked by the 
guides for not having followed their advice and worn 
a crape mask. At eleven o'clock on the tenth of August 
the whole party safely regained the village. 

Beaufoy read a paper upon this expedition before the 
Royal Society on the thirteenth of December, 1787. 

Dr. Paccard records in his manuscript, that Beaufoy 
" went as well as a guide, that he slept at the Grand 
Cabane and arrived at ten a.m. upon the summit, where 
he remained for two hours and a half, that the sky was 
dark blue, and that he suffered — like myself — from the 
want of a veil." 

Albert Smith, who gives a brief reference to this expedi- 
tion, says that " Beaufoy slept at the Cote, as Saussure 
had done, but starting very early the next morning he 
reached the summit by two p.m. This, however, was 
a forced march." Probably he had not access to Beaufoy's 
narrative, which states explicitly that he took five hours 
from Chamonix to the first halting place, and then put on 
his crampons and crossed the glacier, taking four hours 
and a half more to get to the sleeping place, which must 
necessarily have been the Grands Mulcts. Again, from 
three to ten o'clock (or ten-thirty) is very good walking 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

for a party of twelve persons from the Grands Mulets to 
the summit, and the fact that they arrived at ten or ten- 
thirty is proved conclusively by Beaufoy's statement, 
verified as it is by Dr. Paccard. 

It would have been impossible for the travellers to have 
gone from La Cote to the summit of the mountain in so 
short a time as seven or seven and a half hours, and it is 
obvious that if Beaufoy had slept at La Cote he would not 
have "completed the half of the journey." 

The chronicles of Mont Blanc are full of mistakes and 
errors of this kind, but if we waited until everybody was 
agreed upon all the details of successive expeditions, no 
history of the mountain could ever be written. ^ 

Mr. Woodley, 1788 

In the following year the ever active and ever unfortu- 
nate Bourrit was again at Chamonix, accompanied by his 
son. At the same time an English gentleman of the name 
of Woodley, and a Dutch gentleman of the name of 
Camper, were also in the village, and they all agreed to 
try the ascent together. They engaged twenty-two guides, 
and the leaders were Jean Baptiste Lombard and Jean 
Michel Cachat, both of whom had accompanied Saussure. 
The use of the rope was now getting better understood, 
and the party was amply supplied with this necessary 
material. They also carried two tents and a long ladder, 
and provisions for six days. According to Albert Smith 

' Bourrit," Description des Cols," 1803, c. 7 ; "Annals of Philosophy," February 
1817 ; Blackwood's Magazine, April, 1817 

113 I 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

they "slept as usual the first night on La Cote, and 
attempted to reach the summit the next day as Colonel 
Beauf oy had done." As a matter of fact they did nothing 
of the kind. Bourrit tells us that they did not sleep on 
La Cote, but four leagues (hours) above, ^ in other words 
at the Grands Mulcts. The guides had discovered that it 
was waste of time to sleep at La Cote, and may have 
surmised that if the first night was passed at the Grands 
Mulcts rocks, it might even be possible to ascend the 
mountain and to return in two days, whereas Saussure 
had taken four days and Beaufoy three. 

The following morning, the fifth of August, they started 
before daybreak, following the same route as Saussure, 
not, however, without anxiety, and their fears were 
increased by the guides insisting on the whole party 
being roped as the only guarantee against death or 
disaster. The procession must have looked funereal 
indeed, as the face of each member of the party was 
covered with black crape. They did not arrive until 
about nine at the Petit Plateau, where Saussure passed 
his second night, so the pace was funereal also. Several 
of the guides, as might have been anticipated from their 
number, gave up altogether, and remained stretched upon 
the snow, and poor Bourrit, according to his own account, 
occupied himself continuously in cheering on the stronger 
members of the party and in observing the beauties of 
nature. Unfortunately a storm broke out, "and the 
summit had the appearance of a volcano." Bourrit tells 
us that he continued to advance with courage, although 

' Bourrit, " Description des Culs.," 1S03, c 7. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

only three guides remained with him, Jacques des Dames, 
Jean Baptiste Lombard, and Tournier. The travellers 
were of course roped in different parties to their respective 
guides, and Woodley was a long way ahead, followed by 
Camper, who was also considerably in advance of Bourrit. 
The cold, says Bourrit, became excessive. The snow 
blown up by the wind nearly blinded him, the tracks 
were becoming obliterated, and his son was taken ill. 
Meanwhile Woodley persisted in defying all obstacles and 
pushed on. Camper gave up in despair and hastily beat 
a retreat, " terror imprinted upon his countenance," telling 
Bourrit that he believed the first detachment had been 
lost. Bourrit pictures that he was seized with a desire to 
succour the Englishman and his guides, and actually got 
as far as the last rocks on the calotte, but the storm con- 
tinued, his son became worse, and he had no alternative 
but to return. He tells us that he descended to a spot 
which the storm had not reached, from which he saw very 
distinctly those parts of the Mediterranean which had 
escaped the observation of Saussure. Of course this was 
pure imagination — the chain of the Apennines and the 
range of the Maritime Alps prevent any portion of the 
Gulf of Genoa from being visible from Mont Blanc. 

Bourrit hastened down, the thermometer marking 
thirteen degrees below freezing point. He passed some 
of the guides still lying on the snow, others had already 
arrived at the sleeping place. His son had recovered, 
and he tells us that it was a happy moment when he 
perceived the Englishman — who had attained the summit 
— safely descending with his guides. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

There is no doubt that Woodley and his guides 
suffered severely from the effects of the expedition. 
The whole party spent another night at the Grands 
Mulcts. Woodley's feet were badly frostbitten, and 
" had to be kept in snow and salt for a fortnight, one 
of the guides was blind for three weeks, and Cachat 
suffered a long time from frozen hands." 

Bourrit never tried Mont Blanc again. His greatest 
feat was the first recorded passage by a traveller of the 
Col du Geant. As a mountaineer he was a failure, but 
he must have his due ; as a mountain explorer and 
mountain lover he was one of the two persons primarily 
responsible for the conquest of the mountain, and his 
journeys in the Pennine Alps and his numerous publica- 
tions aroused a genuine interest in all persons who loved 
natural scenery, and particularly the scenery of the High 
Alps. He visited Charaonix for the last time in 1812, 
when he was eighty years of age. He then suffered from 
paralysis, but, always faithful to his first love, spent his 
last days in a small country-house near Geneva, from the 
windows of which he had a fine view of the great 
mountain in which he took so great an interest, but 
which he was destined never to climb. ^ 


The summit of the mountain was not reached again 
until after the expiration of fourteen years. The affairs 

'■ Thierry, " Le Mont Blanc," Paris, 1896. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

of Europe in the interval were of such a nature that 
philosophers and tourists had other things to think of 
than making pilgrimages to the glaciers. But on the 
temporary restoration of comparative tranquillity many 
visitors arrived at Chamonix in 1802. Amongst the 
number were M. Le Baron Doorthesen, a German, 
and M. Forneret of Lausanne. They had previously 
gained some mountaineering experience, and thought 
Mont Blanc would be within their powers. They set 
out on the tenth of August, accompanied by seven guides, 
a great improvement in point of numbers as compared 
with the twenty-two who had accompanied Woodley and 
his companions. They followed the ordinary route, 
and slept at Saussure's cabane on the Grands Mulcts. 
The following day they pursued the usual route under 
the Dome du Gouter, but about ten o'clock a violent 
storm arose, accompanied by a raging wind. Notwith- 
standing these drawbacks, they redoubled their efforts 
and reached the summit at half-past twelve. Here the 
wind was so strong that the party had to sit together for 
fear of being blown away. They had no view, and stated 
on their return, that on no possible inducement would 
they again undertake such an enterprise. They saw 
several great avalanches, but safely regained the hut at 
live in the evening. They returned from the Grands 
Mulcts by a new route. Finding the glacier extremely 
difficult they did not go at all to the ridge of La Cote, 
but keeping to the base of the Aiguille du Midi they 
descended to Chamonix by the right bank of the Glacier 
des Bossons, that is by the route now invariably followed 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

in climbing the mountain from the Chamonix side. 
They stated that they had suffered severely from low 
pressures, and one of them told Bourrit that he felt as if 
his lungs were being violently torn from his bodyJ 

Jacques Balmat and other guides, and Maria 
Paradis, 1809 

In the year 1809, Mont Blanc was first ascended by a 
woman. Some of the guides wished to make the expedi- 
tion for their own amusement, and on the thirteenth of 
July, Jacques Balmat, Payot, Victor and Michel Tairraz, 
Edouard Balmat and Frasseron set out. As they were 
on the point of starting, they were astonished at being 
joined by two women, Euphrosine Ducroz and Maria 
Paradis. The guides would have nothing to say to 
Madame Ducroz, but Maria was unmarried, and Jacques 
Balmat, taking her by both hands, asked her if she had 
really made up her mind. She said yes. Well, he replied, 
" I am an old wolf of the mountains, and even I will not 
promise to succeed. All I ask of you is to be courageous." 
Maria clapped her hands with joy, and they all started 
together. They reached the Grands Mulcts without 
difficulty, and on the fourteenth of July at daybreak they 
started again. The party went too fast for Maria, and she 
whispered to the leader, " Go more slowly, Jacques, my 
heart fails me — go as if you were tired yourself." Then 
two guides took her by the arms, and partly by pushing 
her, and partly by carrying her, they arrived at the 

' Bourrit, " Description des Cols," 1803, c. 7. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

Rochers Rouges. After considerable difficulty the guides 
succeeded in getting Maria to the summit, but her strength 
was utterly exhausted. The following day on reaching 
Chamonix all the women in the village came out to 
welcome the young adventuress, and to ask for details of 
the journey ; but she replied she had seen so man}' things 
that it would take too long to recount them, and that 
such of them as were very curious upon the subject could 
make the journey for themselves. 

Maria, however, did give details of the expedition to 
Captain Markham Sherwill on his return from Mont Blanc 
in 1825, and also to Mademoiselle d'Angeville. She said 
that she was very ill on the Grand Plateau and lay down 
upon the snow, that the guides dragged her up, that 
on reaching the Rochers Rouges she begged them to 
drop her into a crevasse and go their own way, but they 
insisted on her continuing to the bitter end, on reaching 
which she was unable either to speak or to breathe. 

She was known for the rest of her life as " Maria de 
Mont Blanc," and travellers who subsequently made the 
ascent record how on approaching Chamonix they found 
a clean cloth spread under a tree near Les Pelerins and a 
refection of milk, cream, and biscuits provided for them, 
and dispensed with the utmost courtesy by the gallant 

Count Matzewski, 1818 

The summit was very nearly attained in 18 16 by the 
Count de Lusi, of the Prussian army, who only succeeded, 

' Dumas. " Impressions de Voyage," Edit. 1885, vol. i. ; " Ascension du Clark et 
Sherwill," French translation, 1827. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

however, in reaching the " derniers rochers." Lusi was a 
Knight of the Iron Cross, and had taken part in the war 
then recently concluded. He published an account of 
his adventures in 1816,'' from which it would appear that 
he carried a bottle of Rhine wine with him in which to 
drink the health of Frederick William ; no other wine 
being in his opinion worthy either of the height or of the 
occasion. The ill-feeling caused by the war, had, as it 
would seem, not then ceased, for Lusi induced his guides 
to certify that no Frenchman had ever reached a similar 
height upon the mountain. 

Travellers were now getting more confident, and a bold 
young Polish gentleman, the Count Matzewski, actually 
formed the idea of climbing the mountain from a new 
side. In August, 1818, he determined to climb the 
"south needle" (the Aiguille du Midi), and he slept at 
the Tacul on the Mer de Glace for that purpose, 
accompanied by six guides. Ascending the Valine 
Blanche in twelve hours, they reached some rocks in 
the neighbourhood of the Aiguille du Midi, from which 
they could see Chamonix, but having made up their 
minds that it was quite impossible to climb Mont Blanc 
by this route they returned in due course to the village. 
Here the Count engaged eleven guides, but his ex- 
periences need not be recorded at any length, for his 
route was identical with that taken by Saussure. He 
started on the third of August, went by way of the 
Montague de la Cote and slept at the Grands Mulcts. On 

I "Voyage sur le Mont Blanc," Le Comte de Lusi, Vienna, 181O. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

the following day he reached the summit at half-past 
twelve. He remained there an hour and a half, the view 
appearing to him " to be sublime beyond everything he 
had previously conceived." He returned to the Grands 
Mulcts at six in the evening, and to Chamonix the follow- 
ing day. Here he met the well-known Captain Basil 
Hall, and then proceeded to Geneva, where he wrote to 
his friend, Professor Pictet, a short account of the 
expedition, informing him that " curiosity and the 
pleasure of doing what is not done every day led him 
to the mountains, of which he should ever entertain 
a pleasing recollection, heightened by the advantage 
they had afforded him of making the Professor's 

This account was sent by Pictet to Blackwood's 
Magazwe, the young traveller having expressly stipu- 
lated that his name should be withheld. ^ 

Dr. William Howard and Jeremiah van Rensselaer, 


Americans now desired to share in the triumphs 
of mountaineering. Dr. William Howard and Mr. 
Jeremiah van Rensselaer had been travelling in Italy 
and had ascended Etna and Vesuvius. They arrived 
at Geneva, and at once determined to visit the Vale of 

On arrival they made various excursions to the glaciers 

• Blackwood's Magazine, November, 1818 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

and had frequent opportunities of conversing with old 
Dr. Paccard and also with Jacques Balmat, then 57 years 
of age. The weather being favourable, the oracles were 
unanimous in favour of the expedition, and the travellers 
retained the services of Marie Couttet and eight other 
guides. The party started on Sunday, the eleventh of 
July, at five in the morning, and at ten reached the glacier 
at the end of the ridge of La Cote. Jacques Balmat 
accompanied them to this point, but age prevented his 
going further. At five in the afternoon they reached the 
Grands Mulcts. They constructed a kind of tent with 
the aid of sheets, and passed an uncomfortable night, the 
temperature being several degrees below freezing point. 
Starting again at three in the morning, they reached the 
Grand Plateau with some difficulty, and in mounting the 
"ancien passage" it was feared that Howard would be 
compelled to return. Howard says that " if we attempted 
to go more than twelve or at most fifteen steps without 
halting, a horrible oppression as of approaching death 
seized on us, our limbs became excessively painful and 
threatened to sink under us." They were relieved by 
drinking plentifully of vinegar and water, a custom 
which I have reason to believe has long since ceased. 
At half-past twelve they were on the summit, where they 
remained an hour and a half. The weather was fine, but 
the wind piercingly cold, and they descended, as usual, 
a few feet on the south side to avoid it. 

They then returned, meeting on their way down, one 
of those men who had succumbed on the Grand Plateau, 
and who appears to have taken that opportunity of 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

breaking the thermometer. They reached their sleeping 
place again at five in the afternoon, and suffered con- 
siderably from cold during the night-time. Early on 
the thirteenth they descended to Chamonix, with burnt 
faces and eyes so inflamed that they had to return to 
Geneva in a darkened carriage, having " purchased 
perhaps too dearly the indulgence of their curiosity." ^ 

Captain J. Undrell, R.N., 1819 

Captain J. Undrell arrived at Chamonix on the fifth 
of August, 1819. After paying a visit to the Jardin, from 
which he had a clear view of Mont Blanc, the weather 
became unsettled, and he left for Martigny by way of 
the Tete Noire. When he had proceeded for seven or 
eight miles, he turned to have a farewell look at the 
mountain, which to his great surprise he found quite 
clear. He instantly returned and instructed Josef Marie 
Couttet to make the necessary preparations for the 
ascent. He was imperfectly provided with scientific 
instruments, and records that " old Dr. Paccard supplied 
me with all he had," but he could not procure good 
barometers, which he most wanted. In addition to 
Couttet, he engaged five other guides, all of whom had 
accompanied Howard and Van Rensselaer a few days 
before. These guides were Pierre Carrier, Alexis 
Devouassoud, Matthieu Balmat, and Eugene and David 

I " Narrativeof a Journey to the Summit of Mont Blanc," William Howard, M.D., 
Baltimore, 1821 ; Antericaii journal of Science and Arts, November, i8;o. 
Note. — Dr. Paccard records that this party broke his thermometer. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Couttet, relatives of the leading guide. A hardy youth 
of eighteen also accompanied the party as a volunteer. 
Starting at five on the morning of the tenth of August, 
they followed the new route on the right bank of the 
Glacier des Bossons, and arrived at the Pierre Pointue 
at twenty minutes past seven. The usual journey 
by La Cote now fell into disuse, the guides finding 
that they could reach the Grands Mulets in two hours 
less time than the old route involved. A ladder was 
then kept at the base of the Aiguille du Midi, a spot 
known then, as now, by the name of " Pierre a 

Proceeding across the glacier, their shoes fitted with 
crampons, without which, according to the Captain, it 
would have been impossible to have kept their footing, 
they continued through the seracs all roped together and 
constantly using the axe to cut footholes. The ladder, 
too, proved useful, and they safely gained the rocks of the 
Grands Mulets. The space where they lay was on the 
south-west side of the rock, measuring about twenty feet 
by six, and had been previously somewhat levelled by the 
guides, " who had piled loose stones on the part towards 
the precipice as a protection." It would be interesting to 
inquire what had become of Saussure's "Grande Cabane" ; 
by this time probably it had been burnt for firewood by 
previous travellers ; it was clearly too much exposed to be 
any longer useful. 

At half-past one on the eleventh of August they set out 
for the summit, aided by the moonlight, and Captain 
Undrell tells us "that the silence and solitude of the scene 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

induced sensations which he might seek in vain for lan- 
guage to depict." It was bitterly cold, and on arriving at 
the Grand Plateau their provisions were frozen and the 
water they carried with them was quite solid. The party 
all suffered more or less, and one of the guides declined 
to proceed. The snow was deep and in bad condition, 
but they proceeded gallantly by way of the " ancien 
passage " to the top of the Rochers Rouges, where 
they rested for a short time, and watched the ailing 
guide, who had been left asleep on the Grand Plateau, 
slowly toiling upwards. At half-past eleven, exactly ten 
hours after leaving the Grands jMulets, they reached the 
summit. The weather was exquisite and the air quite 
clear. Captain Undrell was satisfied that the Apennines 
interrupted the view of the Mediterranean. He justly 
stated that the neighbouring Alps had a very singular 
appearance, and that the height from which they were 
beheld seemed to rob them of their character as moun- 
tains. Monte Rosa, however, towered in front of them 
with nearly rival grandeur, and Undrell, who writes in a 
style as modest as it is graphic, says " that nothing can be 
fancied so beautiful as the ethereal concave arching out 
into infinity, without any exhalation or impurity of earth 
to intercept its magnificence." The party remained three 
hours and a half upon the summit. The gallant Captain 
then assembled his guides, asked them to join with him 
in drinking to the prosperity of Old England, and they 
began to descend. They suffered severely from the cold 
at the Grands Mulcts the second night, but reached 
Chamonix in safety at noon on the twelfth, the Captain, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

having taken no precautions of any kind, suffering greatly 
from inflamed eyes.^ 

Frederick Clissold, 1822 

In 1820 occurred the terrible accident on the " ancien 
passage " in which three guides belonging to Dr. Hamel's 
party were killed by an avalanche. No member of the 
expedition, however, gained the summit, and the accident 
will be recorded in another portion of this volume. 

It is certain that this catastrophe confirmed the guides 
in the opinion they had long held, that the route between 
the Grand Plateau and the summit of the Rochers Rouges 
was, in certain states of the snow, extremely dangerous, 
and men began to ask themselves if no other route could 
be found by which the risk of avalanches could be avoided. 
For a time no further route was discovered, and the death 
of the three guides cast a gloom over the valley and cer- 
tainly deterred travellers from attempting the ascent. 

In August, 1822, Mr. Frederick Clissold visited 
Chamonix under the impression " that having frequently 
ascended Snowdon without guides, he was in some 
measure prepared for the critical circumstances attending 
mountain excursions." No doubt a wide experience on 
the Welsh hills is an excellent preliminary to climbing in 
the Alps, and Clissold's ascent was in many respects a 

' "Annals of Philosophy," 1821. 

Note. — Dr. Paccard describes John Undrell as a captain in the Rojal Navy, of 
the county of Warwick, and says that he lent him a tiiernionieter, a graduated 
half-circle, a compass, and a prism. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

memorable one. He visited Pictet and the younger 
Saussure at Geneva, who gave him every encouragement, 
the latter gentleman favouring him with a sight of the 
shoes which his celebrated father had worn during his 

Clissold reached Chamonix on the second of August, 
and, unlike many previous adventurers, determined to get 
into thorough training before attempting Mont Blanc. 
He went to the Jardin and back in a remarkably short 
time, and actually climbed the Brevent from the village in 
two hours and a half. He well knew how some of his 
predecessors had suffered, and he took every possible 
precaution. He had two veils, one black and the other 
green. He had a preparation of Burgundy pitch made to 
cover his chest and to defend his lungs from sudden 
changes of temperature. Dr. Paccard offered him various 
instruments, the use of which he declined, as, being 
desirous of removing the groundless apprehensions 
excited by the last unsuccessful attempt (Dr. Hamel's), 
he wished to carry nothing which would retard his 

Clissold was a bold man as well as a prudent one. He 
suggested to his leading guide, Marie Couttet, that instead 
of starting in the morning they should begin their journey 
at night, and if possible proceed directly to the summit, 
sleeping on their return at the Grand Plateau, or even 
upon the top of the mountain, a plan which Dr. Paccard 
approved. Six guides were engaged, and all except 
Marie Couttet wanted to sleep as usual at the Grands 
Mulcts, but Clissold was firm, and the guides gave in. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

The party started on the night of the eighteenth of 
August at half-past ten, quite a novel departure, and 
Clissold felt such strength and spirits that he wished he 
were starting for Chimborazo and not for Mont Blanc. 
He insisted on carrying the knapsack of one of the 
guides, which gave the others confidence in his strength 
and encouraged them to greater exertions. At half-past 
three the following morning they reached the base of the 
Aiguille du Midi, where they rested for half an hour and 
then took to the glacier, Clissold outstripping his guides. 
He learnt caution, however, by a fall in a crevasse and 
by the loss of his alpenstock, and the whole party reached 
the Grands Mulcts together. After another rest they 
proceeded, and the sun getting hot, Clissold used plenty 
of cold cream like any modern mountaineer. He suffered 
little or no fatigue, and Marie Couttet, who was very 
short of breath, looked at him with astonishment, saying, 
" Diable vous n'etes pas fatigue du tout." They cut steps 
up the "ancien passage" and reached the Rochers 
Rouges at half-past six, after twenty hours of walking 
from Chamonix, including halts, but they had wasted 
two or three hours waiting for tired guides. They 
determined to sleep on these rocks, but Clissold pushed 
on with Marie Couttet tc the Petits Mulcts, from which 
point the summit could easily have been gained, but 
Couttet dissuaded him and he returned to the Rochers 
Rouges. They made a hole between the rocks and the 
snow, covered the bottom with pieces of wood and 
themselves with blankets, and went to sleep. The cold 
was severe, as a bottle of the best Hermitage was frozen. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

There was a brilliant sunrise, and at half-past five the 
whole party were on the summit. The air was perfectly 
still and the view superb. They remained three hours on 
the top. In descending, they reached the Grands Mulcts 
at half-past one, and heard the noise of a great avalanche, 
which they afterwards discovered had fallen down the 
"ancien passage" in the very line of the path they had 
traversed. They reached the village at half-past seven in 
the evening, after an absence of forty-five hours. Not- 
withstanding that Clissold was provided with two veils, he 
used neither, and suffered greatly from inflamed eyes ; 
indeed, he asserts that he had used little or no precaution 
to protect them from the action of the sun, " the scene 
being too extraordinary to be viewed through the 
preservative of green crape, or any other medium." 
This ascent was in some respects magnificent, but " it 
was not war." If Clissold, who was a good climber, 
had taken only three first-rate guides with him, he 
would have accomplished the expedition in a far shorter 
time and need not have walked all night. It was a 
tour de force to climb up-hill for twenty hours, and 
a needless risk to sleep in the open at the Rochers 
Rouges. Again, the actual ascent occupied twenty-two 
hours, including halts, five or six hours longer than 
was necessary, but Clissold's scheme obliged him to go 
from the Grands Mulcts to the Rochers Rouges in the 
day-time, and so to grapple w^ith soft snow ; whereas, if he 
had slept as usual at the Grands Mulcts and started at 
midnight, he might have been on the summit soon after 
sunrise and had the snow in the best possible condition. 

129 K 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

However, he was the first man who had ever stood on 
Mont Blanc before six in the morning, or who had been 
up and down within forty-eight hours. ^ 

H. H. Jackson, 1823 

The ascent of Mr. Jackson was also an interesting one. 
He came from Geneva to Chamonix with a knapsack, and 
necessaries, as he tells us, sufficient for any pedestrian 
exercise less arduous than the ascent of Mont Blanc. 
He, like Clissold, was a mountaineer pure and simple, 
had no desire to make any scientific observations, but 
climbed " from a love of hardy enterprise excusable, as he 
hoped, in a young man." He v^'ished to obtain the 
services of the guides who had accompanied his pre- 
decessor the previous year, particularly Marie Couttet, 
who was then the recognised leader of similar expedi- 
tions. But all these guides were otherwise engaged, and 
he secured five others — Alexis and Simon Devouassoud, 
Joseph Charlet, Anselm Tronchet, and Jean Pierre 
Tairraz the younger. He agreed to pay each of these 
guides sixty francs if they reached the summit. He 
was evidently a practical man, and his ordinary dress 
consisting for the most part of a nankeen jacket and 
trousers, he borrowed more substantial clothing from 
Charlet, the landlord of the Union Inn. He had evi- 
dently thought the matter out with care, and provided 

I " An Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc," by Frederick Clissold, London, 

Note. — Dr. Paccard records that Clissold slept on the upper portion of the 
Rochers Rouges, and "reached the top on the i8th with six guides." 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

himself, with the aid of Charlet, with thick cloth trousers, 
a double-breasted woollen waistcoat with long sleeves, a 
spencer of strong cloth which served as an overcoat, two 
pairs of thick woollen stockings, and cloth gaiters. He 
had heard, too, of inflamed eyes, and prudently added a 
green veil and dark-green spectacles. On the third of 
September, 1823, the little party was ready. The weather 
was not wholly favourable, and he was doubtful whether 
to undertake the enterprise or not. He met old Jacques 
Balmat upon the bridge. Balmat had given up the 
guiding business, but after surveying the heavens advised 
him to start. He left about eight in the morning, 
ascended by way of the base of the Aiguille du Midi, 
and after encountering a storm which wet the whole 
party to the skin, arrived safely at the Grands Mulcts 
about three o'clock. They carried a sheet with them 
to form a tent, under which they slept with reasonable 
tranquillity, though another storm burst over them in 
the course of the night. They did not start till five the 
next morning, the weather being fine and the sky clear. 
Jackson found his green veil and spectacles of the 
greatest possible service. As he got higher he saw 
that a tempest was raging on the summit. On the 
Grand Plateau he had a severe headache, but after a 
rest the party made straight by the old route to the 
Rochers Rouges. Some dread was felt at this point, 
as they actually climbed over the debris of a recent 
avalanche. It appears that the proper use of the rope 
was still unknown, for while it was fastened round 
Jackson's body, the guide who preceded him held one 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

end in his hand and the rear guide held the other. 
They encountered a piercing wind between the Rochers 
Rouges and the summit. Charlet was fatigued and sat 
down. Alexis Devouassoud stopped to look after him, 
while Jackson and the three remaining guides pushed 
on to the summit. The traveller seems to have been 
prepared for any emergency, though the wind was 
violent and doubled the labour of the ascent. Exactly 
at noon they were on the top, Jackson suffering from 
headache and a slight bleeding at the nose. They had 
scarcely any view, and the wind was so fierce that 
they had to cling to one another and exert their 
utmost strength to keep on their legs. In ten minutes 
they left, and picked up Alexis Devouassoud on their 
road down, Charlet having already descended. At three 
they reached the Grands Mulcts, a very creditable 
performance both up and down. Jackson had in- 
tended to remain at the sleeping place for a second 
night, but the day being comparatively young, he sug- 
gested to the guides that they should follow Clissold's 
example and all make a push for Chamonix and sleep 
under more favourable circumstances. The proposition 
was willingly acceded to, and the party reached the 
village at about eight o'clock, being the second who 
had ever accomplished the ascent and the descent 
within two days. The entire expedition took only 
about thirty-six hours.^ 

• New Monthly Magazine, 1827. 

Note. — Dr. Paccard simply records that Jackson reached the summit with three 
guides five minutes after noon. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

It is interesting to compare the actual number of 
hours spent in climbing by Clissold and Jackson respec- 
tively. Clissold was absent from Chamonix forty-five 
hours ; Jackson only thirty-six. The former was twenty- 
two hours (including halts) climbing up-hill ; the latter 
only fourteen. In descending, Clissold took eleven 
hours ; Jackson only eight. It was obvious, therefore, 
that to ensure the minimum of exertion the night bivouac 
at the Grands Mulcts was the right plan. 

Dr. Edmund Clark and Captain Markham 
Sherwill, 1825 

There is nothing specially interesting to record in the 
ascent of Doctor Clark and Captain Sherwill in the year 
1825. Both were gentlemen of education and refine- 
ment. They were strangers till they met at Chamonix, 
but both being bent on the same errand they agreed to 
join in the adventure. They engaged Joseph Marie 
Couttet, who had already been six times on the summit, 
and who was the son of that Marie Couttet who had 
been constantly in Saussure's employ. Six more guides 
were retained, and the party of nine set out on the 
twenty-fifth of August at seven o'clock in the morning, 
the travellers riding on mules as far as the Pierre Pointue. 
It was usual at that time to strike the Grands Mulcts at 
the foot of the rocks and climb to the top where the 
resting place was, but later the route was taken by way 
of the glacier direct to the sleeping place. At live 
o'clock in the afternoon, or in ten hours from Chamonix, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

this spot was tardily gained. Sherwill says ''that the 
beauty of the setting sun and the solemnity of the still 
evening created in him sensation of terror." A tent was 
constructed by the usual process of placing poles in a 
slanting direction against the rock and covering them 
with a sheet. The party all had a good night except 
Sherwill, who was severely afflicted with nausea. The 
next morning they left at five ; Clark walking easily, 
but Sherwill having occasionally to halt. They gained 
the Grand Plateau after the usual incidents and then 
struck the "ancien passage." Here the ordinary route 
was varied. Instead of climbing to the top of the 
Rochers Rouges, they left these rocks on their left and 
went straight for the Petits Mulcts. Clark and two of 
the guides led the way, followed by Sherwill, Marie 
Couttet, and another. At three o'clock they were on 
the summit, the day being remarkably fine and not a 
cloud above them. They had thus taken twenty hours 
in ascending from Chamonix. They at once sunk down 
on the snow, both travellers being exhausted. They did 
not remain long upon the summit, as the wind was 
freshening from the south-west. Clark had brought 
some small branches of olive from the shores of the 
Mediterranean, and he placed this emblem of peace in 
a glass tube, "together with the name of George the 
Fourth and his deservedly popular Minister, subjoining 
the names of some of the most remarkable persons of 
the age," and in descending and reaching the rocks 
nearest to the summit, he hid this votive offering her- 
metically sealed with an icy plug, deep down under the 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

snow, hoping "that it might remain unaltered for many 
centuries like insects preserved in amber." They slept 
the second ni^ht at the Grands Mulets and regained the 
village on the following day, receiving the greetings of 
Maria Paradis as they passed the Pelerins. Both Clark 
and Sherwill refer to the Cabane of Saussure on the 
rocks of the Grands Mulets and constructed in 1787. 
The roof was gone and it was full of snow, and the walls 
were not more than two or three feet high. The guides 
were of opinion that the site of the cabane was more 
exposed than that now used as a sleeping place.^ 

William Hawes and Charles Fellows, 1827 

Two young Englishmen, William Hawes and Charles 
Fellows, who were active pedestrians, having made the 
tour of the Rhine and of Switzerland mostly on foot, 
arrived at Chamonix on the twenty-third of July, 1827. 
They instantly made arrangements for an ascent, and 
provided themselves with an enormous quantity of pro- 
visions and forty-seven bottles of wine, brandy, syrup 

' New Monthly Magazine, 1826, "A Visit to the Summit of Mont Blanc"; "As- 
cension de Mont Blanc by Captain Markham Sherwill, translated from the 
English by Alexander P r, 1827." 

Note. — Dr. Paccard gives a delightful account of this expedition. He says that 
the party climbed the rocks of the Grands Mulets from their base, having no ladder 
to cross the crevasses. " My son-in-law, Julien Devouassoud," he adds, " liad a 
sheepskin to keep his feet warm, and did not suffer from cold. They had snow 
up to the knees on the Grand Plateau, and suffered from the rarefaction of the air. 
The Captain was sick. They left there several of their impedimenta, amongst 
them my electrometer, which they forgot." 

Jacques Balniat also wrote a short account of the expedition, which will be 
found in the Appendix. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

and lemonade. They engaged the services of Joseph 
Marie Couttet and Matthieu Bahnat as leaders, and of 
seven other guides, and started at half-past eight on the 
morning of the twenty-fourth. 

The men of Chamonix had made the usual statements 
as to the difficulties and perils of the climb, and in order 
that the guides might be fresh on reaching the glacier, 
ten porters carrying the provisions were sent in advance 
to the Pierre a I'echelle. The cottage of Jacques Balmat 
was visited en route, the travellers using mules as far as 
the Pierre Pointue, and on reaching the Pierre a I'echelle 
the combined party, numbering twenty-two in all, held 
a solemn banquet, after which the porters were sent back, 
and the party, augmented by two volunteers and number- 
ing thirteen persons, proceeded by the usual route to the 
rocks of the Grands Mulcts. They were advised to move 
not only with caution, but in perfect silence, " as a word 
spoken might have given vibration to the air, whose 
agitation would have been sufficient to bring down the 
masses of ice which were seen, as it were, balancing 
themselves above our heads." 

At half-past four they reached the base of the rocks 
and, proceeding to the top, they encamped on a little 
plateau then constructed there, finding and applying to 
their own use the sheet with which Jackson had con- 
structed his tent in 1823. 

They had seven degrees of frost during the night, and 
the sound of avalanches disturbed their repose. At a 
quarter to four in the morning of the twenty-fifth they 
set out, taking with them a very small portion of their 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

ample stores. Reaching the Grand Plateau at eight, they 
found that the only route by which the summit had 
hitherto been reached (the " ancien passage ") was totally 
impassable, avalanches falling continuously from the 
Rochers Rouges. This was a severe blow. The weather 
was delightful and the air clear, and yet it was feared 
that failure was inevitable. Was it possible to find a 
new way ? F'our of the guides were sent off to recon- 
noitre, while the remainder of the party stayed on the 
Plateau suffering severely from headache, nausea, and 
exhaustion. Two hours elapsed before their fears were 
dispelled, when they received a welcome signal to pro- 
ceed. Leaving the " ancien passage " on their right, they 
mounted the steep snow-slopes leading to what is now 
known as the "Corridor," and turning the Rochers 
Rouges, they were the first persons who ascended the 
mountain by the Mur de la Cote, and struggling gallantly 
they reached the summit at half-past two. Hawes was 
in good spirits, though he found a certain difficulty in 
breathing. Fellows suffered from an unquenchable 
thirst ; two of the guides failed in reaching the summit, 
two fell from faintness and " copiously vomited blood." 
No doubt this assertion was honestly made, but it is clear 
that some at least of the red wine was brought from 
the Grands Mulets. However, they pulled themselves 
together and drank " Health to all below and success to 
our friends of the Thames Tunnel." The cold was so 
great that they only waited about half an hour upon the 
summit, and rapidly descending reached their sleeping 
place about six. They encountered a severe storm on 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

the Grand Plateau on their way down, and as much rain 
had fallen on the Grands Mulcts, their blankets as well 
as their clothes were completely soaked. After passing 
a wretched night, they started again as soon as possible 
after daylight and regained the village at nine, meeting 
Sir David Wilkie, R.A., on their return. The travellers 
were not much fatigued, but some of the guides had 
serious inflammation of the eyes. The cost of the ex- 
cursion was nearly fifty pounds. 

This ascent was memorable as being the first occasion 
when an alternative route to the summit was discovered, 
which, though longer than by way of the "ancien 
passage," avoided the risk of avalanches, of which 
Chamonix guides were now getting greatly afraid. 
Fellows afterwards became famous in connection with 
the " Lycian Marbles," and received the honour of 
knighthood ; and he gave me an account of his ascent 
exactly forty-five years ago, warning me in the most 
solemn manner never to attempt a similar expedition.^ 

John Auldjo, 1827 

John Auldjo, a Scotch gentleman and a member of 
Trinity College, Cambridge, was travelling in the Alps 
in the summer of the same year. On passing the now 
vanished Lac de Chede on his way to Chamonix, the 
monarch of the Alps was first seen by him, clothed in 

' "Ascent to the Summit of Mont BInnc (privately printed), 1828, for Benjamin 
Hawes, junior." " Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc on the 25th of Jul)-, 1827, 
by Charles Fellows (privately printed)." 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

dazzling splendour. He determined to ascend it, and 
made training excursions to the Jardin and the Brevent, 
but he was unable to secure guides to accompany him 
and returned to Geneva. Here he met Hawes and 
Fellows on their way home, who gave him valuable 
information and advice. He returned to the village on 
the fifth of August to find the rain falling in torrents ; 
but, whatever might be the inconvenience, he insisted 
on remaining on the spot so as to avail himself of the 
first favourable change. In due course, Devouassoud 
and Couttet, his leading guides, announced to him that 
the wind had changed, and he made ready to start. He 
found great difficulty in filling up the number of his 
guides ; only four would volunteer, but at length six 
agreed to accotnpany him. These were Joseph Marie 
Couttet and Julien Devouassoud, both of whom were 
members of Dr. Hamel's party, Jean Pierre Tairraz, 
Jacques Simond, Michel Favret and Jean Marie Couttet ; 
and two villagers, Auguste Couttet and Michel Carrier, 
obtained permission to join the party. On the morning 
of the eighth of August everything was ready. Notwith- 
standing the number of ascents that had already been 
made, the wives of some of the guides came crying to 
Auldjo and upbraiding him for tempting those who 
formed their only support to sacrifiice themselves to his 
curiosity and pleasure. However, matters were arranged, 
and Auldjo rode a mule to the Pierre Pointue, and the 
party breakfasted at the Pierre a I'echelle. Here most of 
the friends of the guides, who as usual at that time had 
carried the baggage thus far, returned to the village, but 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

some insisted on going further. About halfway to the 
Grands Mulcts these also returned, and the party of nine 
shook hands, swore to keep faithful in every emergency, 
to know no distinction of person, and to be all brothers 
in the enterprise. They arrived in due time at the base 
of the Grands Mulcts rocks, and proceeding upwards 
reached the well-known ledge near the summit at four 
in the afternoon. They lighted a fire and made them- 
selves comfortable, after which Auldjo made a discovery 
of profound interest. He tells us that he attempted to 
smoke, but ** the rarity of the air rendered the scent of 
the tobacco so powerful and disagreeable that I was 
obliged to desist." They constructed a tent with the 
aid of the usual sheet, and lying huddled up together on 
their stony couch passed a very satisfactory night. At 
half-past three in the morning they started, aided by a 
brilliant moon, and proceeded to the Grand Plateau. 
Auldjo found the work very fatiguing and the cold ex- 
ceptionally severe ; the wind was blowing from the north, 
and the thermometer marked fourteen degrees below 
freezing point on the Plateau. Following the new route 
by the Corridor, they soon found the sun, and, getting 
warm, experienced little difficulty. Whilst climbing the 
Corridor a great avalanche swept down the "ancien 
passage," and they would certainly have been killed had 
they not followed the new and less dangerous way dis- 
covered by Hawes and Fellows. At the Derniers 
Rochers the whole party suffered from headache, thirst, 
and difficulty of breathing, but the sight of some " female 
forms " on the Brevent renewed their courage and excited 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

them to greater exertion. Notwithstanding the sight of 
the female forms, however, Auldjo was on the point 
of giving in. In an unhappy moment he discarded his 
veil and spectacles ; he besought the guides to leave him, 
but they declared that they would carry him to the top 
if necessary, and that if they could not carry him they 
would drag him. Ultimately they fastened a rope round 
his waist, and so hauled him to the summit at exactly 
eleven o'clock. It was a brilliant and cloudless day. 
Couttet, who had made seven successful ascents, said he 
had never enjoyed so extensive a prospect, or seen the 
mountains so clear from mist or cloud. Auldjo's mind 
and body alike were so exhausted that he had little joy 
in his triumph, and throwing himself on the snow wuth 
his guides they all fell fast asleep, which neither the 
burning rays of the sun nor the piercing cold of the snow 
could either prevent or disturb. After a few minutes' 
repose a mountain repast was served, but Auldjo tells us 
that the very taste of food created nausea and disgust, 
and that one bottle of champagne which was carried to 
the summit was found amply sufficient to assuage the 
thirst of nine persons. 

Auldjo then carefully inspected the view, and ascer- 
tained the extent of country that could be seen from 
the summit on a perfectly clear day. He afterwards 
constructed a map of the area so visible, and assures 
us that it is possible to see as far as Basle on the 
north, Lyons on the west, Milan on the east, but not 
quite so far as the Gulf of Genoa on the south. Exactly 
at noon the signal was given for departure. On arriving 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

at the Derniers Rochers some fragments of rock were 
secured, and the guides found the bottle containing the 
twigs of ohve so carefully deposited by Clark and 
Sherwill two years before. Unfortunately the bottle, 
supposed to have been hermetically sealed, and the 
contents of which were " likely to remain unaltered for 
many centuries," was half filled with water, and the 
written memoranda were entirely illegible. On arriving 
at the Grand Plateau, they found the remains of the great 
avalanche that had fallen down the "ancien passage" in 
the early morning, and the guides trembled and became 
pale at the sight of the danger from which they had 
escaped. One of them turned to Auldjo and said, " My 
God, had we been obliged to have gone with you by 
the old route, what a destiny would have awaited us." 
Auldjo suffered greatly in the descent from heat and 
faintness. A storm was brewing, and just as they 
reached the Grands Mulcts it broke over them with great 
violence. After a short halt they proceeded downwards, 
encountering another storm on their way, and were all 
drenched to the skin. Auldjo, who had become very 
weary, walked as Saussure did, between batons held 
horizontally by two guides, and so arrived at the Pierre 
Pointue and shortly afterwards at Chamonix, the entire 
excursion having taken thirty-seven hours. His face was 
scorched, his lips swollen, and his eyes inflamed. In the 
following year he published an account of his ascent, far 
more complete and interesting than any previously given 
to the public. The first edition is quarto and is full of 
admirable lithographic illustrations. A second and smaller 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

edition followed in due course, and a third was published 
so late as the year 1856, in the preface to which the author 
remarks that his ascent had procured for him "the gold 
medal of civil merit from the late King of Prussia, an 
autograph letter of approval from the ex- King of Bavaria, 
and the gift of a valuable diamond ring from the King of 
Sardinia." For many years afterwards he occupied the 
post of British Consul at Geneva, and I had the pleasure 
of meeting him at that city in the year 1879, exactly fifty- 
two years after his ascent was made. He was then a 
hale old gentleman with a white beard. He died at 
Geneva on the sixth of Alay, 1 886.1 

« "Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc on the 8th and 9th of August, 1S27 " ; 
Longmans, London, 182S. 

Note. — The final entry of importance in Dr. Paccard's book is as follows : 
" Mr. Auldjo, English, arrived at the summit on the ninth at 11 a.m., left again at 
11.40, and returned to Chamonix at 8 p.m 



ALBERT SMITH {continued) 

The Hon. Edward Bootle Wilbraham, 1830 

WILBRAHAM was a colonel in the British Army, 
and whilst visiting the Montanvert in August, 
1830, in company with Captain Pringle and the Comte 
de Hohenthal, the beauty of the weather and the clearness 
of the sky induced him to attempt the ascent of Mont 
Blanc. He accordingly consulted Joseph Marie Couttet, 
who had then made the ascent eight times. Couttet, in 
accordance with the Chamonix custom, endeavoured to 
dissuade him, bluntly told him he had better not make 
the attempt, and would not even promise to assist him. 
Ultimately he relented, and engaged six guides, all of 
whom Wilbraham discarded on the advice of his land- 
lord. Some of the guides afterwards selected failed him 
at the last moment, Couttet having informed him that he 
must not rely on married men. 

Those who finally accompanied him were Joseph Marie 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

Couttet the leader, Alexis Devouassoiid, Auguste and 
Pierre Couttet, Michel Favret, and Matthieu Dessailloud, 
and he set out on the second of August, 1830, and rode ^-2 

on a mule to the Pierre Pointue, the party reaching the 
Grands Mulets at a quarter past two, a little more than 
seven hours from the start. Here they found half a 
bottle of excellent brandy which had been left by Auldjo 
in 1827, and so charmed was Wilbraham at this dis- 
covery, that he ordered his guides to leave certain bottles 
of wine for his successor, whoever he might be. They 
constructed a tent with a sheet, and would have slept 
comfortably, Wilbraham tells us, "had we not been so 
cramped for room that it was impossible for me to move 
my legs without kicking the head of the unfortunate man 
beyond me." At half-past two o'clock on the morning of 
the third of August they were astir, and Wilbraham 
provided himself with a cotton nightcap to be worn 
under a straw hat. The party carried vinegar for 
drinking purposes, and " eau de Cologne to relieve the 
acute headache which usually attacks persons at a great 
height, and from which I suffered considerably during 
the ascent." In four hours they reached the Grand 
Plateau, the weather being very favourable and the snow 
in excellent condition. Here they halted for breakfast, 
but Wilbraham had no appetite and already felt very 
much fatigued. As they passed the foot of the " ancien 
passage " Couttet pointed to the crevasse in which three 
of Dr. Hamel's guides were engulfed, saying signifi- 
cantly, "lis sont la." Wilbraham remarked that "they 
would remain imbedded there till the day of judgment," 

145 L 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

a false assertion as we shall see. He had forgotten, if 
indeed it was then known, that 

" The glacier's cold and restless mass 
Moves onward day by day." 

They proceeded by way of the Corridor, Wilbraham 
sometimes falling asleep, and although he confesses that 
he often wished that Mont Blanc never existed, as he had 
no thought of abandoning the attempt he kept his wishes 
to himself. At length they reached the summit, on which 
Wilbraham stepped, like so many of his predecessors, 
" without the slightest emotion of pleasure." He was 
thoroughly exhausted, sat down on a knapsack and fell 
asleep. In a few minutes he recovered, heartily enjoyed 
the magnificent view, and having quite regained his 
strength, set out on his return journey "with shouts of 
joy." Glissading rapidly downwards, they reached the 
Grands Mulcts in three hours and a half, where they 
halted for a few minutes, Wilbraham suffering no incon- 
venience except from a raging thirst. On reaching the 
Pierre Pointue a mule was waiting for him, and he rode 
into Chamonix, where he was the lion of the place for the 
two days he remained, "the visitors asking him the most 
absurd questions imaginable." ^ 

Dr. Martin Barry, 1834 

Four years later Martin Barry made a successful 
ascent. He was a Doctor of Medicine of the University 

' •' An Ascent of Mont Blanc in August, 1830, by the Hon. Edward Bootle 
Wilbraham," The Keepsake, 1832. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

of Edinburgh, and President of the Royal Medical 
Society of that city. He was also a Fellow of the Royal 
Society of Edinburgh, and had considerable scientific 
attainments. After spending the summer at Heidelberg, 
he rambled on foot through Switzerland. He ascended 
the Faulhorn and made a careful examination of the 
Bernese Alps. On the fifteenth of September, 1834, he 
crossed the Col de Balme, and had the splendid view of 
Mont Blanc which so many of us have seen from that 
enchanting point of view. "An amazing picture," as he 
records, "which the eye knew not how to scan, chaining 
the beholder, lost in an astonished gaze. The prodigies 
of nature piled up there, cast other, even Alpine splendour, 
far into the shade." The idea of an ascent conceived 
some hours before, became a settled purpose after the 
view from the Col de Balme. On reaching the Priory, 
Barry consulted the guides, who objected that the season 
was too far advanced, that the days were too short, that 
much recent snow had fallen, and other arguments with 
which the men of Chamonix were wont to whet the moun- 
taineering appetite. The moon was at the full, and Barry 
was in excellent training and determined to start at once 
He obtained an outfit from the proprietors of the Hotel 
de rUnion, and having retained the services of six guides, 
he started at half-past eight on the morning of the 
sixteenth of September. 

' At noon they were at the Pierre a I'echelle. Here the 
friends of the guides who had carried up charcoal, 
blankets, and other mountaineering necessaries, took their 
departure and returned to the valley. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

The lateness of the season and the unusual heat of the 
summer caused considerable difficulty on the glacier, and 
the party had to be dragged on to the rocks of the Grands 
Mulcts by Joseph Marie Couttet, who was leading guide. 
The other guides were Simon Tournier, Michel Balmat, 
Pierre and Jean Tairraz, and Francois Despland. Gain- 
ing the Grands Mulcts rocks was found so laborious that 
Couttet gave Dr. Barry a certificate that although he had 
been nine times on the summit of Mont Blanc he had 
never met with such difficulty in reaching the rocks as on 
this occasion. At half-past six they gained the usual 
sleeping place, taking about ten hours from Chamonix, 
the state of the glacier easily accounting for the unusual 
length of the journey. 

A tent was constructed in the orthodox manner, and 
the party supped with good appetite and slept well. 
There was a brilliant moon, and Barry records that the 
influence upon his mind of that poetic vision of the 
night, he despaired of ever being able to communicate 
to others, " although the scene remained a picture on his 
own memory unalterable by time." 

They did not leave the rocks until five o'clock, and 
naturally found the snow somewhat soft, and were 
delayed for some time in endeavouring to force a passage 
over a crevasse on their way to the Grand Plateau. 
Starting again at ten they turned to the left, and Couttet 
gave them an account of the Hamel accident near the 
scene of the disaster, and proceeding by the new route 
they reached the top of the Mur de la Cote. The 
enthusiasm of Barry was not equal to what it had been 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

a few hours before ; he was considerably exhausted, and 
tells us that he had never previously found " the flexors 
of the thigh and the extensors of the leg so inadequate 
to the performance of their office." At length ex- 
haustion became extreme, indifference came on, and 
almost fainting he sank upon the snow ; but his 
work was nearly accomplished, and at a quarter 
past two he stood upon the summit, having taken 
nearly twenty hours of actual walking in making the 

After a short rest he soon recovered, made some 
scientific experiments, and then revelled in the magni- 
ficence of the scene. All exhaustion, faintness, and in- 
difference had disappeared, and Barry describes in 
charming and graceful language the effect which that 
majestic view produced upon his mind. During the 
entire day no particle of cloud was visible. At half- 
past three they turned to descend, and after two or 
three falls into concealed crevasses, from which Barry 
was easily rescued, the party regained the Grands Mulcts 
soon after six, spent a second night there, and leaving 
the rocks at half-past seven the following morning, they 
took till nearly four in the afternoon to regain the village, 
w'here they met old Jacques Balmat, then seventy-three 
years of age. In the evening Barry gave a supper to his 
guides. The venerable Jacques Balmat joined the party, 
and told them of his experiences nearly half a century 

I "Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc in 1834, by Martin Barry, M.D., 
F.R.S.E." Blackwood, Edinburgh, 1836. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Count Henri de Tilly, 1834 

A French gentleman, formerly an officer of Dragoons 
in the service of Charles the Tenth, but who had been 
exiled from his native country after the revolution of 
1830, was the first Frenchman who ascended Mont 
Blanc. This was Count Henri de Till}'', who was fond 
of adventure, and who had ascended Mount Etna in the 
spring of 1834. Arriving at Lausanne in October of that 
year, but being ignorant alike of glaciers and guides, he 
had not then determined upon making the ascent, but 
the thought of doing so was always in his mind, and on 
reaching Chamonix on the fifth of October he sent for 
the hardiest guide then to be found in the village, and 
Michel Devouassoud soon presented himself. This guide, 
it may be remembered, accompanied Clark and Sherwill 
in 1825. The Count and Devouassoud made an excursion 
to the jardin by way of the Couvercle, and Tilly being 
assured that the man who could climb the Couvercle 
without losing his head could be guaranteed for Mont 
Blanc, at once made up his mind. He admits that it was 
a grave and solemn determination, but he was prepared 
to look all difficulties steadily in the face. In addition to 
the leader he took with him Francois Despland (a name 
which now seems to exist no longer at Chamonix), David 
Simond, Julien Devouassoud, Jean Michel Tairraz, and 
Matthieu Simond, and the party started at six o'clock in 
the morning of the eighth of October. There were 
neither tears nor lamentations, although the lateness of 
the season was the cause of considerable uneasiness. 


The Old Route bv the Grands ^Muk-ts Rocks. 

[7V' fine ptigc 150. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

Certain porters in charge of the baggage were, as usual, 
despatched in advance ; then came Tilly mounted on a 
mule, attended by his leading guide, the five remaining 
guides bringing up the rear. Passing the cottage of 
Couttet, "the most renowned guide of Chamonix," at 
the hamlet of Les Pelerins, Tilly reached the Pierre 
Pointue, where he parted with his mule, and shortly 
afterwards the whole party breakfasted at Pierre 
a I'echelle, which they reached at ten o'clock. A 
recently fallen avalanche from the Aiguille du Midi 
caused them some alarm, but one of the guides, taking 
Tilly by the arm, hurried him from the spot, and they 
made good progress to the Grands Mulcts. On the road 
the guides assured him that the Aiguille du Midi and 
the Mont Maudit were alike inaccessible, and that the 
latter mountain had been so named on that account. 
The porters left them in the middle of the Glacier des 
Bossons, so that the party consisted only of seven persons. 
Tilly was greatly impressed by the magnificence of the 
scenery, which he compared very favourably with that of 
Etna. Mont Blanc, he said, elevated the soul whilst 
Etna debased it ; the one was heaven and the other hell. 
At length they arrived at the foot of the Grands Mulcts, 
and I am able to reproduce from the book afterwards 
published by Tilly an interesting picture of these well- 
known rocks, showing how they were ascended at that 
time to their summit, where the sleeping place had long 
been established. The party arrived there between four 
and five in the afternoon, having taken upwards of ten 
hours in the ascent from Chamonix. The bottle con- 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

taining the soup had, with several other bottles, been 
broken in chmbing the rocks, to the Count's great dis- 
appointment, but notwithstanding this misadventure they 
dined gaily. Tilly lamented the fate of the unhappy 
country which he was not permitted to enter, but putting 
gloomy thoughts aside, he assisted in fixing the tent, and 
lying down with four of the guides, all covered by one 
blanket (there being no room for the remaining guides in 
the tent), he tried in vain to sleep. At six the following 
morning (the ninth of October) they resumed their 
march. No snow had fallen for a long time, and they 
had the benefit of Barry's tracks made nearly a month 
before. At eleven they reached the Grand Plateau, 
where a violent wind assailed them, and they suffered 
from fatigue and cold. Two of the guides wanted to 
return, but Francois Despland and David Simond were 
always in good heart, their courage increased with the 
difficulties, and the whole party persevered. Tilly 
suffered from cold feet, but he was neither sleepy nor 
thirsty, and had a ravenous appetite. Vinegar he freely 
partook of, but no food would appease his hunger. The 
wind became extremely violent, but he had no idea of 
giving up the expedition. Before reaching the Mur de la 
Cote, Tairraz and Devouassoud lagged behind, but at half- 
past three, or in nine and a half hours from the sleeping 
place, the whole of the party arrived upon the summit. 
Tilly was not much fatigued, and after thinking of his 
dear country, addressed himself to the view. He saw the 
town of Lyons, he admired the beautiful pinnacle of 
Monte Viso, more than a hundred miles distant ; he 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

thought he recognised Venice, the home of his exile ; he 
was in an ecstasy of dehght. The sky was cloudless, but 
the temperature was fifteen degrees below freezing point 
so the party hastened to descend and reached the Grands 
Mulcts in less than three hours, the Count's feet, how- 
ever, being badly frost-bitten. The reason was not far to 
seek, for Tilly records that his boots were thin and tight, 
and that he changed them for the heavier shoes of one of 
his guides. The return journey was one of great suffer- 
ing. They rested for a time at the Pierre Pointue, where 
maidens from below brought him an offering of milk, 
butter, and honey, and he had a great reception on his 
return to Chamonix. On the eleventh he went to Geneva, 
the fine weather having broken up, and was treated for 
gangrene supervening on frost-bite, by eminent Geneva 
doctors. He had obtained a certificate, under the seal of 
the Syndic of Chamonix, that he was the first Frenchman 
who had reached the summit of Mont Blanc notwith- 
standing the immense difficulties of the journey due to 
the unusual lateness of the season. ^ 

Mr. Henry Martin Atkins, Mr. S. Pidwel, and 
Mr. Hedrengen, 1837 

Mr. H. M. Atkins was a very young English gentleman 
who in the year 1837 was pursuing his studies at Geneva. 
He paid a holiday visit to Chamonix in the month of 
August in that year. Here he met with another English- 

» " Ascension aux cimes de TEtna et du Mont Blanc pjr le Comte Henri de 
Tilly." Geneve, Pelletier, 1835. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

man named Pidwel, and a Swedish officer of artillery 
named Hedrengen, and the three determined to make the 
ascent together. They engaged Michel Balmat as chief 
guide, who, when he had accepted the engagement, begged 
permission to pass the day with his family. Atkins was 
greatly struck with this fact, which convinced him that he 
was engaged in a very perilous undertaking. The guides, 
he tells us, " displayed no eagerness ; there was a solemnity 
in their countenances and in the manner in which they 
laid their plans ; they collected in little groups about the 
village and consulted in a low voice." A certain Countess 

K who was at Chamonix at the time begged and 

prayed him not to undertake the expedition. An Irish 
gentleman, too, showed him great attention, read to him 
the history of the Count de Tilly who had his feet frozen, 
offered to make his will, and consoled him by the in- 
formation that if he were lost and his body discovered 
after an interval of ten years, it would be easily identi- 
fied. The guides in addition to Michel Balmat were 
David Folliguet, David Simond, Eugene Cupelin, David 
Couttet the elder, David Couttet the younger, Julien 
Devouassoud, Matthieu Balmat, Simon Tournier, and 
Pierre Joseph Simond ; and the party, consisting of 
thirteen persons, started at seven on the morning of the 
twenty-second of August. 

At eleven they reached the Pierre a I'echelle, the three 
travellers, if the pictures which Atkins subsequently 
published may be relied upon, wearing tall hats. Michel 
Balmat took a dog with him, the first which ever attained 
the summit of the mountain. Atkins had never previously 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

been upon a glacier, but Pidwel and Hedrengen had both 
climbed in Norway and were expert mountaineers. They 
all reached the sleeping place at the Grands Mulets at 
half-past four. The weather was beautiful, but Atkins 
was too much excited to sleep, and " thought of home 
and all that was most dear to him." They were awakened 
at two o'clock, and about three they started, aided by a 
full moon. At a quarter before seven they were on the 
Grand Plateau and partook of frozen fowls, frozen bread, 
and frozen wine, the thermometer marking three degrees 
below zero of Fahrenheit. Atkins was well clothed, wear- 
ing lambs'-wool stockings, two pairs of cloth trousers, two 
pairs of gaiters, two waistcoats, a shooting coat, and over 
all a blue woollen smock-frock. His sufferings com- 
menced at the Mur de la Cote, where his friends passed 
him. He was supported by Folliguet and the younger 
Couttet ; he was obliged to stop every ten steps to recover 
his breath ; a lethargy came over him, and a burning thirst 
which a mouthful of vinegar taken every now and then 
only partly assuaged. At half-past ten, about eight hours 
after leaving the Grands Mulets, they reached the summit, 
Atkins descended a little on to the south side to obtain 
warmth, wrapped himself in a blanket and went fast asleep. 
Waking up- in a few minutes he enjoyed a splendid view, 
but, like Dr. Paccard, he lost his hat, and tied five hand- 
kerchiefs round his head. After remaining on the top a 
little more than an hour, they descended and arrived at 
the Grands Mulets at three in the afternoon. Pursuing 
their way downwards and having taken bread, milk, and 
honey at the Pierre Pointue, they arrived at Chamonix in 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

the evening. Hedrengen's eyes were greatly inflamed, 
Pidwel was horribly blistered, Atkins suffered much from 
weakness and was laid up for a week unable to use his 
limbs, but shortly recovered and was able to resume his 

studies. The Countess K , whom he met at Plongeon 

on his return, and who thought he was lost, attended a 
dinner given in his honour, and proposed his health, 
wishing that the same success might attend his military 
career as had attended him in his ascent of Mont Blanc. 
The excursion cost each of the three travellers twenty 

Mademoiselle Henriette d'Angeville ; M. Eisex- 


In the following year Henriette d'Angeville, who was a 
member of a well-known French family, "planted the 
flag of feminine Alpinism " upon the summit of Mont 
Blanc. She belonged to the house of Beaumont, and 
was connected with Christopher de Beaumont, the friend 
of Chateaubriand. Her brother was the Count Adolphe 
d'Angeville, distinguished in the French navy, and a 
member of the Institute of France. 

Mademoiselle d'Angeville was born in 1794, so that she 
was no longer young when she became a candidate for 
mountaineering honours. Her early life was embittered 
by sorrow. Her father suffered imprisonment, and her 
grandfather was one of the many victims of " La Guillo- 

' " Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc on the 22nd and 23rd of August, 1S37." 
Not published. Calkin and Budd, London, 1838. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

tine." After the storm of the great revolution had abated, 
the family of d'Angeville retired to Biigey in a hilly 
country, from which Mont Blanc can be seen in clear 
weather, and Henriette led a simple country life, acquiring 
a love for natural scenery which lasted as long as she 
lived. Notwithstanding her poetical temperament she 
was a keen observer, and she had much personal courage 
and a high character. The idea of ascending the great 
mountain got possession of her to so absorbing an extent 
that it became a raging passion. Her friends in vain ex- 
postulated with her on what they called her folly. 
*' Oui," says her biographer, " folic au depart, heroisme au 
retour : c'est la regie." Like Saussure, she had the true 
mountaineering spirit. To see the fairy summit, luminous 
at sunset, and not to be able to reach it was torture to her 
soul. She visited the chain of Mont Blanc in July and 
August, and being a prudent woman underwent a thorough 
training. She ascended the Mont Joli in the valley of 
St. Gervais, from which a grand western view can be 
obtained ; she made excursions amongst the great 
glaciers, and then returned to Geneva to arrange the 
details of her intended expedition. Eight days of bad 
weather concealed the mountain from her view, but as 
soon as it was fine and she again sav\^ its summit from the 
Lake, her heart beat violently and she was seized with a 
burning desire to begin her enterprise. She took medical 
advice as to precautions to be observed. She made her 
will and started again for Chamonix. She was a woman 
of spirit, for the innkeeper at Sallanches asking her three 
times the ordinary tariff, she passed the night in a poor 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

little carriage, rather than yield to his exorbitant demands. 
On reaching Chamonix she put Joseph Marie Couttet in 
charge of the expedition, who engaged eleven other 
guides and porters whose names need not be given, and 
hud in a gigantic stock of wine, spirits, and provisions. 
She was also very particular about her clothing, any 
description of which is, however, unnecessary, as I am 
permitted to reproduce a sketch of Mademoiselle 
d'Angeville taken from her own album " en tenue 

At six o'clock on the morning of the third of September 
the party set out, the excitement in the valley being 
intense. Mademoiselle d'Angeville used no mule ; full 
of spirit and energy she rather flew than walked, she 
refused assistance from the guides who, having carefully 
watched her, said, " Let her alone ; she goes as well as we 
do and fears nothing." At two o'clock the caravan 
arrived at the Grands Mulcts. Soon after reaching this 
spot two smaller caravans arrived ; M. Eisenkramer, pro- 
prietor of one of the Chamonix inns, heading the one, 
and a Polish gentleman, Le Comte Karol de Stoppen, 
heading the other, and both shared in the success of the 
expedition. The latter asked leave to visit the enter- 
prising lady in her camp, which was readily accorded, and 
the various guides gathered together and passed the even- 
ing with songs and merriment. 

It was a cold night and Mademoiselle d'Angeville could 
not sleep. She started early the following morning, but 
suffered greatly from palpitation and an irresistible 
drowsiness, and had often to lie on the snow to recover 


Hcnrictte d'Angevilk*. 

I'fo fine pogi- 1 58. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

her faculties. But her will was paramount and rose 
superior to all bodily fatigue. " If I die before reaching 
the summit," she said to the guides, " take up my body 
and leave it there ; my family will pay 3^ou for fulfilling 
my last wishes." The guides responded, " Be easy in 
your mind ; living or dead, to the top you shall go." At 
half-past one she was on the highest point. The cold 
was severe, but the weather and the view were alike 
superb. Recovering with great rapidity she intensely en- 
joyed her success, and, being a good loyalist, quaffed a 
bumper of lemonade to the health of the Comte de Paris. 
A carrier pigeon bore the news of her success to the 
village, an unnecessary procedure, as of course her pro- 
gress had been watched . from below. " Now," said 
Couttet to her, "you shall go higher than Mont Blanc." 
" Is there, then, a way leading to the moon ? " she replied. 
" You will see," said Couttet, and he and the other guides 
lifted her up as high as they were able. 

After passing an hour on the summit they descended to 
the Grands Mulcts, but the lady having suffered a good 
deal on the return journey, wisely resolved to pass a 
second night there. The next day they continued the 
descent, an EngUsh lady having sent to the Pierre Pointue 
a mule with a side-saddle for Mademoiselle d'Angeville's 
use. This considerate offer was gracefully declined, and 
she walked into Chamonix amidst the enthusiastic accla- 
mations of the inhabitants and visitors. 

The following day she was visited at her hotel by a 
peasant woman, with white hair, who tenderly embraced 
her. This was Maria Paradis, the only other woman 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

who, up to that time, had ascended the great mountain. ^ 
A banquet succeeded, and Mademoiselle d'Angeville left 
Chamonix amidst great demonstrations of enthusiasm, 
which were renewed at Geneva and even at Paris. She 
died on the 13th of January, 1871. She was long re- 
membered in the valley, and was known both as " Regina 
Alpina " and " La Fiancee du Mont Blanc."^ 

IL Marchese di Sant Angelo, 1840 

The first ascent made by an Italian was accomplished 
by the Marchese di Sant Angelo, who left Chamonix 
on the twenty-sixth of August, 1840, and arrived on the 
summit on the morning of the twenty-seventh a little 
before eleven. He records no particulars, not even the 
names of his guides, but the fatigue and danger of the 
ascent were greatly increased in his case by the quantity 
of fresh snow which had recently fallen upon the 
mountain. One of his guides had his feet frost-bitten.3 

Le Chevalier Jacques Carelli de Rocca 
Castello, 1843 

Carelli was a Piedmontese gentleman living at Varallo. 
He was one of the first to protest against the exaggerations 

' Note. — Mademoiselle d'Angeville kept up an acquaintance with the Paradis 
family, as will be seen from a letter addressed to her b\' Angelique Paradis, a trans- 
lation of which appears in the Appendix. 

' " Mademoiselle d'Angeville," Notice biographique "Annuaire du Club Alpin 
Fran?ais," vol. xx., 1893, par Mary Paillon. 

3 " Le Federal," journal Gcncvoh, 4th September, 1840 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

then so common of the difficulties and dangers of Mont 
Blanc. He arrived at Chamonix in 1842, and records 
with a certain cynicism the anxiety of the casual tourist 
to make the acquaintance of "I'homme du jour," in other 
words, of the man who at the moment was planning an 
ascent of the mountain. Such curiosity he thought un- 
mannerly, even when it emanated from " Les belles 
Ladys." He objected to being made an object either of 
sympathy or of admiration, and was not anxious to favour 
the curious with his autograph. He waited sixteen days 
at the Hotel de Londres in bad weather, but ultimately 
set out. He reached the Rochers Rouges, but snow and 
mist obliged him to descend, after a gallant and pro- 
tracted struggle. 

In the month of August in the following year he tried 
again, and engaged David Couttet as leader — who had 
made six ascents — Jean Mugnier, Michel Couttet, Joachim 
Balmat, and Simon Couttet. Provisions were laid in to 
suit the inordinate appetites of the Chamonix guides, and 
the party started soon after six on the morning of the 

The weather was not fine and the guides were doubt- 
ful, so Carelli put himself at the head of the party 
and led the way. Soon after two they reached the 
Grands Mulcts and despatched a pigeon with the fol- 
lowing note : 

" Grands Mulets, 2.20 apres midi. La neige est bonne. Tout va 
bien." "Carelli." 

— but the unfaithful bird flew off to Les Ouches and the 

161 M 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

message was never delivered at Chamonix. The weather 
became worse, and the party suffered from torrents of rain 
and snow. Simon Couttet encouraged Carelli by con- 
stantly exclaiming, " Ah ! mon Dieu, nous sommes tous 
perdus " ; our traveller, however, was not to be frightened, 
though he dreaded a second failure. Before four on the 
morning of the sixteenth a start was made, and the Grand 
Plateau was reached at eight o'clock. Here they were 
enveloped in clouds, and a fierce wind began to blow. 
The guides wanted to return, but Carelli persisted in going 
on. They mounted by the " ancien passage " as being the 
shorter route, but they could not see the Rochers Rouges 
until they actually arrived there. The guides counselled 
immediate return, but with an emphatic "jamais" Carelli 
pushed on, saying he would go alone if they declined to 
follow him, and between eleven and twelve the whole 
party were on the summit. The storm continued, and as 
they could not be seen from the village they tried to 
despatch another pigeon, but the bird was frightened and 
refused to fly. They remained on the top only five 
minutes, the storm continuing to rage. Some of the 
guides lost th&ir heads and began to descend in the 
direction of Courmayeur, but soon finding their mistake 
they took the right route, and regaining the Grands 
Mulcts before two, they halted for an hour and arrived 
at Chamonix at seven in the evening. Carelli of course 
ought to have turned back from the Grand Plateau ; he 
ran grave risk on the " ancien passage " and had no view 
from the summit, but he behaved throughout with great 
courage and determination. It is doubtful, however, 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

whether any of his guides except David Couttet deserved 
the title of "guides effectifs de la Vallee " which they 
appended to the usual certificate of the ascent.^ 

Mr. Nicholson and the Abbe Caux, 1843 

On the thirtieth of August in this year an English 
barrister, Mr. Nicholson, induced the Abb6 of the Priory 
to accompany him in an ascent. The Abbe Caux had 
long desired to climb the mountain at the foot of which 
he had lived and ministered for many years. The names 
of their guides (with the exception of Venance Payot 
their leader) are not recorded, but starting on the thirtieth 
they reached the Grands Mulcts in good time, and on the 
following day they gained the summit, both walking 
remarkably well. This ascent was memorable from the 
fact that the Abbe performed evening service on the rocks 
of the Grands Mulcts before the party composed them- 
selves to rest. Nicholson was greatly impressed by 
this function, which seemed to him to give " the 
sanction of experience and piety to an enterprise 
which had often been represented as foolish, if not 

Nicholson and the Abbe reached Chamonix as early as 
five o'clock on the evening of their ascent, and both, but 
especially the Abbe, were greeted with enthusiasm on 
their return to the village. ^ 

• " Une ascension au Mont Blanc par le Chevalier Jacques Carelli de Rocca 
Castello. Varallo, chez la Veuve Caligaris, 1843." 
2 "Vacation Rambles," by T. N. Taltourd. London : Moxon, 1845. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Messrs. Bosworth, Cross, and Blanc, 1843 

In this year Mr. Talfourd, afterwards Mr. Justice 
Thomas Noon Talfourd, whose tragic death on the 
bench at Stafford will be recollected by the last genera- 
tion, was staying at Chamonix with his son, and both 
were anxious to attempt the expedition. Mr. Bosworth 
was there, bent on a similar enterprise, having already 
engaged the services of Jean Marie Couttet and other 
guides. The Talfourds and Mr. Bosworth joined their 
forces and made all necessary preparations for an ascent. 
Two young gentlemen asked permission to start in com- 
pany with the others, each party, however, making its 
own arrangements. On the third of September the joint 
parties set out : five travellers, twenty guides, and eight 
porters, an enormous caravan. Talfourd was rather 
slow, and at times required considerable assistance from 
the guides, but the younger men walked well. In due 
course they all arrived safely at the Grands Mulcts, and 
after enjoying a magnificent sunset they crept into the 
usual sleeping places, and "were alone with the rocks, 
the snow, and the stars." 

Starting early the following morning they reached the 
Grand Plateau, but not without difficulty, for the snow 
was soft. Talfourd experienced great pain and fatigue ; 
and even Bosworth, who appears to have been the 
strongest of the party, suffered from nausea and head- 
ache. Bosworth had made for the Corridor, but returning, 
told Talfourd that his son was ill, and the guides thought 
it better that he should return ; so the Talfourds " ad- 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

dressed themselves to the inglorious task of descending." 
Bosworth, Cross, (one of the young gentlemen), and 
Blanc, (a Savoyard who had followed them) reached 
the summit without difficulty, and the Talfourds, who 
had descended to Chamonix, had the melancholy plea- 
sure of hearing the firing of the cannon which an- 
nounced the successful enterprise of their companions.^ 

MM. Bravais, Martins, and Le Pileur, 1844 

This was a purely scientific ascent, and was memorable 
on many grounds. It was the first occasion on which 
men of science deliberately made up their minds to sleep 
on or near the summit of the mountain, and so to ensure 
ample time and opportunity for making observations. 
Arriving at Chamonix on the twenty-eighth of July, they 
secured a convenient tent and laid in provisions for a 
journey of three days. They engaged Jean Mugnier, of the 
village of Tour, as chief guide, who is said to have made 
the first passage of the Col du Tour, between Chamonix 
and Orsieres. They also had the services of Michel Couttet 
and Gedeon Balmat. They started on the thirtieth, and 
having much to carry, the caravan actually consisted of 
forty-three persons. The morning was cloudless, but the 
wind was south-west, with a falling barometer, and the 
fact that so large a party had never previously started for 
the mountain caused them more anxiety than satisfaction. 
They were troubled a good deal by stones which fell from 

• "Vacation Rambles," by T. N. Talfourd. London :Moxon, 1845. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

the Aiguille du Midi, and by clouds which soon hid the 
valley of Chamonix from their sight ; but pushing up- 
wards they reached the Grands Mulcts at half-past three, 
taking eight hours from the village, a good march for so 
cumbrous a party. They pitched their tent and had a 
good night, though all the signs were unfavourable. 
They did not start till six the next morning, and were 
joined on the glacier by Marie Couttet ; then eighty years 
of age, who offered to conduct them to the summit by a 
new route. This route was no other than the ridge of 
the Bosses du Dromadaire, so long given up as imprac- 
ticable. The other guides, however, preferred the ordi- 
nary way. On reaching the Petit Plateau, Marie Couttet 
left them, declining their offer of food and wine. Soon 
after ten the party reached the Grand Plateau, when a 
great storm burst over them. They had to choose 
between an immediate descent and an unpleasant en- 
campment. They were resolute men, but not requiring 
all the porters they asked for volunteers. Two men 
instantly offered themselves, Jean Cachat and Auguste 
Simond, both of whom, especially Simond, afterwards 
attaining great celebrity in the ranks of the Chamonix 
guides. The tent was pitched on the Grand Plateau, but 
being unsteady, M. Bravais suggested pouring hot water 
on the pegs to which the cords were fastened ; the snow 
at once became ice and the tent was perfectly secure. 
Snow fell, and the storm became more and more violent. 
The cold was great, but the men were well clothed. 
Further ascent was, of course, impossible, and after 
passing a wretched night, they left the bulk of their 

1 66 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

instruments in the tent to be used on a happier occasion, 
and returned to the village. 

On the seventh of August they tried again with Mugnier 
and Michel Couttet and five porters, Cachat and Auguste 
Simond being among the number. At half-past six in 
the evening they reached their tent only to encounter 
another storm, which lasted the whole of the night, and 
at three the following day they were again obliged to 
retreat, and descended to Chamonix at nine in the evening. 
Nothing daunted by two reverses, they waited till the 
north wind set in, and started for a third attempt at mid- 
night on the twenty-seventh of August. Their perseverance 
was rewarded, and in twelve hours they were again in 
their tent, which had bravely withstood all onslaughts 
of wind and weather. In perfect health and training 
they began their observations, which lasted continuously 
till the first of September. The night of the twenty- 
eighth was glorious, and so late as ten the following 
morning they set out for the summit. 

Mugnier led them by the "ancien passage" — the 
route of Balmat and Saussure — which, as we have 
seen, had been practically discontinued since the dis- 
covery of the safer way by Hawes and Fellows. A 
north-west wind assailed them on the Rochers Rouges, 
but they reached the summit safely about two, M. 
Bravais alone suffering from mal de montagne. Here 
they remained for five hours making careful obser- 
vations the whole time. They had desired to remain 
on the summit till half-past nine in the evening, 
and to make "fire signals" which might be seen 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

at Geneva, Lyons, and Dijon ; but the guides, except 
Simond, objected, and the tent was regained in the 
evening. Suffering little or no inconvenience, they con- 
tinued their observations till midnight. On the thirtieth 
of August Le Pileur returned to the village, but Bravais 
and Martins remained on the Grand Plateau for two 
days more, continuing their observations and experiments, 
and descended to Chamonix on the first of September. 
A more interesting expedition had never been made. 
Saussure, it is true, had passed seventeen days on the Col 
du Geant, at a height of about ii,ooo feet, but these men 
had enough determination, after two failures, to spend 
four nights in a tent, amidst the snows of the Grand 
Plateau, at a height exceeding 13,000 feet above the level 
of the sea. The mountain was becoming better and 
better known, and the difficulties of encamping at high 
altitudes more clearly appreciated.^ 

Count Fernand de Bouille, 1846 

The Count Fernand de Bouille, a French officer, 
arrived at Chamonix in July and took up his quarters at 
the Hotel de I'Union, then a new hostelry of consider- 
able pretensions, and conducted by M. Eisenkramer, who 
had himself ascended the mountain on the same day as 
Mademoiselle d'Angeville. At eight on the morning of 
the thirteenth the Count bade adieu to the visitors who 
crowded round him to wish him success. The porters, 
carrymg as usual the sacks of the guides, marched first, 

^ " Les ascensions calebres, Zurcher et Marjjolle." Paris : Hacliette, 1891. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

seven in number. There were five guides : Gedeon 
Balmat (the leader), Ambroise Simond, Michel Couttet, 
and Jean Edouard and Ambroise Devouassoud, and two 
volunteers. It is interesting to record that the Count 
declined to ride a mule as far as the Pierre Pointue, 
preferring to make the whole journey on foot. Two 
porters were sent back on reaching the glacier, and the 
rest of the party continued the journey in good spirits. 
The Count received the customary advice to be silent 
for fear of avalanches, and so satisfied was he that this 
advice was sound, that he relates the story of a certain 
Englishman who, being sceptical on the point, fired a 
pistol at a spot where the strictest silence had been 
enjoined. An avalanche immediately engulfed him and 
he was seen no more ! 

After two or three slips on the part of the Count, the 
Grands Mulcts rocks were reached at three in the after- 
noon. At five o'clock a stranger was seen approaching. 
He turned out to be Pierre Payot, who had mounted 
from Chamonix alone, and who asked permission to 
join the party as a volunteer. Much snow had recently 
fallen, and in the course of the evening a great avalanche 
fell from the Dome on to the Petit Plateau. They started 
again soon after midnight, aided by a lantern. The 
snow was so soft that the leader had to be changed every 
ten minutes, and the party were greatly delayed by 
crevasses, so much so that they began to despair of 
success, and Balmat suggested to the Count that if they 
succeeded they should on their return have a thanks- 
giving service at the church. The work seems to have 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

been unusually severe, for both the Count and his guides 
underwent considerable suffering. Proceeding upwards 
Couttet wanted to go by the old route, but Balmat, the 
leading guide, declined, so ascending the Corridor and 
cutting steps up the Mur de la Cote they reached the 
summit about nine o'clock. There was much cold and 
wind, and the snow was blown into their faces and 
icicles formed upon their beards. Payot and Ambroise 
Devouassoud gave up before reaching the top. 

As the view could not be seen it was imagined, and the 
party hastened down, sending off a pigeon on reaching 
the Grand Plateau, with the news of their success. This 
pigeon, however, was also faithless, for it fled not to 
Chamonix but to Sallanches. On this, as on many 
other recorded occasions, an avalanche fell down the 
"ancien passage" whilst the party were mounting the 
Corridor. Resting some minutes at the Grands Mulcts, 
they reached the village at half-past six " horribly 
fatigued," and on the following day a thanksgiving 
service was held, as had been arranged, and the message 
which had been committed to the pigeon was returned by 
post from Sallanches. The Count records, but incorrectly, 
that he was the fortieth traveller and the eighth Frenchman 
who had been on the summit of Mont Blanc.^ 

Mr. J. WOOLLEY AND MR. J. T. HURT, 1846 

On the fifth of August in this year these gentlemen 
reached the summit, led by the veteran Couttet, who 

' " Une ascension au Mont Blanc par Le Comte F. de Bouille." Nantes : 1S46. 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

had made the ascent twelve times. Professor Forbes 
was then at the Montanvert making his map of the 
Mer de Glace.^ 

Mr. S. a. Richards and Mr. W. K. Gretton, 1850 

Mr. Richards was an Irish gentleman, and a member 
of Trinity College, Oxford. Mr. Gretton was formerly 
an officer in the 5th Fusileers. They left Chamonix on 
the twenty-eighth of August, having previously made 
their wills. At eleven on the morning of the twenty- 
ninth they reached the summit, and regained the village 
in safety between seven and eight in the evening, pre- 
ceded by the best music Chamonix afforded. The 
travellers displayed great coolness and courage on the 
expedition, and on their return were carried to their 
hotel on the shoulders of enthusiastic Frenchmen.^ 

Mr. J. D. Gardner, 1850 

Mr. J. D. Gardner, of Chatteris, went to Chamonix in 
August, 1850, with no intention of climbing the moun- 
tain. The weather had been long unfavourable. There 
had been no ascent for three years, except one which was 
made a few days before Gardner's expedition, and the 
traces of which he found useful. His wife and child had 
accompanied him to the village, and the dread of the 
mountain was still so great that Gardner records the pain 

' The Times, August 13, 184O. 
" Ibid., September 9, 1850. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

of parting with them, for an attempt, the issue of which 
was so uncertain. For two nights before starting he was 
unable to sleep from anxiety. He secured the services of 
six guides : Joseph Marie Couttet and Michel Couttet, 
Auguste Balmat, then becoming famous (the guide and 
assistant of Professor Forbes), Gedeon Balmat, Matthieu 
Charlet, and Jean Couttet. In addition he had six or 
eight porters to carry provisions and firewood in the 
direction of the Grands Mulets. The party set out on 
the second of September, at half-past six in the morning, 
in cloudless weather, and reached the sleeping place in 
seven hours. They had a glorious night, sleeping in 
blankets under the usual sheet, which was fastened tent- 
like against the rocks to keep off the dew. They started 
the following morning soon after midnight and reached 
the Grand Plateau in three hours, notwithstanding the 
softness of the snow, and it is remarkable that even a 
guide of such experience as Auguste Balmat should have 
advised the party to walk in silence lest the sound of 
their voices should produce an avalanche. Gardner was 
much fatigued in mounting from the Grand Plateau to 
the Corridor, and once or twice had to sit down. The 
cold was severe and some of the guides had their feet 
frostbitten. On gaining the Corridor, however, they met 
the sun, and Gardner, who had begun to despair, was 
inspired with new courage. After a long halt they 
resumed their journey, climbed the Mur de la Cote, "that 
almost perpendicular ice wall," and, in spite of the biting 
wind, reached the summit about ten o'clock. They 
remained there an hour, and there was not a particle of 


Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

vapour in the sky. The descent was made without diffi- 
culty, and Gardner returned to the village at eight in 
the evening, the ascent from the sleeping place and the 
return to Chamonix having taken twenty hours ; the cost 
of the expedition amounting to nearly forty pounds.^ 

Mr. Erasmus Galtox, 1850 

On the fourth of September, in the same year, Mr. 
Erasmus Galton was at Chamonix, and the weather being 
fine he determined to make the ascent. He secured the 
services of six guides — Jean, Victor, Joseph, and Basil 
Tairraz, Alexander Devouassoud, and Jean Carrier. 
Another young guide and a German workman were 
allowed to join the party as volunteers. Starting at ten 
on the morning of the fifth, with seven porters who 
carried the provisions and a ladder, they reached the ice 
at one o'clock and proceeded across the glacier. The 
porter who was responsible for the ladder slipped and 
fell, and being a good deal injured he was left behind 
with another porter to take care of him. This accident 
involved an hour's delay, and to Mr. Galton's great 
regret his only thermometer was broken. On nearing 
the Grands Mulcts the porters were sent back, and Mr. 
Galton and his guides attained the rocks a little before 
five in the afternoon. After changing their clothes they 
constructed a tent with the aid of four alpenstocks and 
some slight canvas, supped, and went to sleep. Mr. 
Galton was roused at eight to see the sunset, a most 

« " Ascent and Tour of Mont Blanc by J. D. Gardner." Privately printed. 
Whittingham, Chiswick, 1851. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

sublime spectacle, as he tells us, " the valley being filled 
with clouds, a perfectly clear sky overhead, therefore on 
looking down the whole world seemed gone, and in its 
place a sea of clouds, with the tops of the mountains 
showing through like small islands, a sight that no writing 
can explain." 

They were astir at eleven o'clock, and after rubbing his 
face with hot tallow, and stopping his ears with paper 
Mr. Galton started exactly at midnight. At six he reached 
the Grand Plateau, where his respiration was affected. 
The two volunteers were quite exhausted and were 
obliged to return, and at seven Mr. Galton "fell down 
on his face till 4iis lungs were inflated." At times he 
became "almost unconscious and partially blind and 
stupefied, and tumbled about like a drunken man ; " but 
after lying down for a short time he was able to start 
again without much difficulty. At half-past nine they 
were on the summit, where they lay down for a time and 
soon revived. They remained there only a quarter of an 
hour, the guides suffering greatly from cold and difficulty 
of breathing. Gaining the Grands Mulcts again at one 
o'clock, they rested for an hour, and at half-past six 
arrived safely at Chamonix. The excursion cost over 
thirty-four pounds and was probably the quickest that 
had yet been made.^ 

Such are the various successful ascents of the great 
mountain, from the time of Paccard and Balmat in 1786 
to the time of Albert Smith in 1851, of which any really 
authentic records are to be found. The list is not an 

• The Illustrated Loudon News, Feb. 8th, 1851. 

Subsequent Ascents of Mont Blanc 

exhaustive one. It is well known that M. Rodatz, of 
Hamburg, gained the summit in September, 1812 ; Mr. 
Alfred Waddington in July, 1836; M. Doulat in August, 
1837 ; M. M. Chenal, Ordinaire, and Jacot in August and 
September, 1843 ; and Mr. Archibald Vincent Smith in 
August, 1847. But either these climbers left no records 
of their expeditions or, if such records have been left, 
I have not been fortunate enough to obtain access to 

Altogether some fifty-two persons — including Jacques 
Balmat but exclusive of all other guides — persons of various 
nationalities, of whom about half were Englishmen, were 
successful during the sixty-four years which extended 
from 1786 to 1850. These ascents were undertaken in 
pursuit of scientific objects, or from pure love of adven- 
ture. The ascent which I shall now record, followed as 
it was by a long series of lectures at the Egyptian Hall, 
made the ascent of Mont Blanc fashionable, and attracted 
the attention of the English public to the new form of 
sport to be obtained amongst the high Alps, and to that 
wide area of mountain beauty so soon destined to be 
known as the " Play-ground of Europe." 




ALBERT SMITH was the son of a country surgeon, 
and was born on the twenty-fourth of May, 1816. 
He was therefore thirty-five years old when he made his 
memorable ascent of the mountain. From his boyhood 
he had a craze for Mont Blanc. He had read the 
works of Saussure, Clark, Sherwill, and Auldjo, and was 
well acquainted with all the details of the Hamel catas- 
trophe in 1820. Some one had given him a little volume 
called "The Peasants of Chamouni," and with the aid of 
this very modest narrative combined with the Alpine 
classics of Saussure and others, and the sensational 
pictures of Auldjo ; but assisted above all by a vivid and 
powerful imagination, he constructed a panorama of 
Mont Blanc. 

He had never been up a hill higher than that of St. 
Anne's, near Chertsey, where he resided, but his first 
audience — who was his little sister — became pale with 
fright on listening to his recital of mountain horrors. 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

Having run away from school, he was placed early in 
life at the Middlesex Hospital, and afterwards continued 
his medical studies in Paris. Wherever he was, Mont 
Blanc seemed always on his mind ; indeed few persons 
have suffered more severely from that apparently in- 
curable disease "snow mountain on the brain." 

In the autumn of 1838, when his age was only twenty- 
two, he was able to gratify the longing of years, and to 
make the personal acquaintance of the mountain to 
which he was so much attached. He was then studying 
in Paris, and as soon as the vacation arrived he made a 
journey to Chamonix with a fellow student. Their 
means were limited, and with infinite pains they scraped 
together twelve pounds each, which was to last them for 
five weeks, and carrying this sum about them — all in 
five-franc pieces — they set out on the twenty-first of 
September. Albert Smith's diary of this journey is 
modest and interesting, and shows the privations and 
fatigue which men had to undergo who, with slender 
resources, visited the happy hunting ground some sixty 
years ago. Leaving by a cheap diligence and provided 
with hard-boiled eggs and a litre of vin ordinaire, they 
reached Melun in the middle of the day ; and having 
inspected the town whilst the other passengers were 
taking luncheon, they bought " a brick of bread more 
than two feet long," and congratulated themselves that 
while the rest of the travellers paid three francs each, 
the cost of their own meal was only ten sous. Arriving 
at Sens in the evening the other passengers dined at the 
hotel for four francs each, whilst Smith and his friend 

177 N 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

were sent by the postilion to a cheap cabaret, and had 
an excellent repast for a mere trifle. At night they crept 
under the tarpaulin roof of the diligence, stacked the 
luggage to suit their own convenience, and slept at full 
length tolerably well. At daybreak on the following 
morning they found themselves amongst the vineyards, 
begged some eggs at Tonnerre, and reaching Semur, 
where the other passengers again dined, Smith and his 
friend, still practising the most rigid economy, bought a 
pie at a confectioner's, and replenished their wine bottle. 
Passing Dijon at two in the night, and sleeping as before 
under the roof of the diligence, they proceeded to Dole, 
where they purchased a bottle of good Burgundy for 
threepence, and spent the third night in climbing over 
the Jura. On the morning of the twenty-fourth they 
began the descent, and looked down upon the blue waters 
of Lake Leman. They arrived at Geneva in the after- 
noon, and found that their entire outlay, including the 
fare of the diligence, was only two pounds, twelve shil- 
lings, and sixpence each, about one-fourth of the con- 
ventional expenditure. Early on the morning of the 
twenty-fifth they set out on foot for Chamonix, arriving 
at Bonneville in time for breakfast. They bought some 
fruit in the market-place, and such were the peculiarities 
of the Savoy currency that, having offered a ten-sous 
piece to the fruiterer, they received six peaches and 
twelve sous in exchange. With the aid of a lumber- 
waggon they proceeded to Cluses, and bargaining with 
the driver of a return char-a-banc they went on to St. 
Martin, and walked from thence to St. Gervais. Here. 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

they met a hearty old man, who told them that his name 
was Victor Tairraz, and that he kept the Hotel de Londres 
at Chamonix. They arranged with him for a room at 
the top of his house at a nominal charge, and for refresh- 
ment at a tariff so moderate, as to cause both surprise and 
envy to the modern mountaineer. On the following day 
they passed through the village of Servoz, then the main 
line of route, and arriving at Chamonix about noon, 
Smith was brought for the first time face to face with 
the mountain he had loved so long. 

"Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis." 

In these days men can leave London at eleven in the 
morning and reach Chamonix on the following afternoon. 
Albert Smith took seventy-eight successive hours in 
making the journey only from Paris to Geneva, and 
a day and a half more to reach Chamonix. The old 
travellers in search of the mountains must have found 
the journey a weary one, but youth and good spirits 
laughed at obstacles, and bore with a placid fortitude 
all inevitable delay. Dijon we still know, and Dole is 
familiar to us, but what Alpine traveller of this generation 
has ever seen the towns of Melun, Tonnerre, Semur, or 
Sens ! " The old order changeth, yielding place to new." 
The new may be better in some respects, but the old 
was not without its compensating charm. 

Smith inspected the glaciers and afterwards crossed 
the great Saint Bernard into Italy. He visited Novara 
and Milan, and on the conclusion of the Alpine portion 
of his tour he records : " We were very happy, could 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

scarcely believe that we had got so far away from home, 
and pleased to find our money holding out capitally 
when we examined our belts on retiring to bed." 

His first visit to Mont Blanc gave him a profound 
satisfaction. Every step he took on entering the valley 
of Chamonix "was like a journey in a fairy land." At 
sunset he always sought the fields behind the church to 
watch the rosy light creep up the mountain higher and 
higher till it left it again cold and clear against the sky. 
He knew every step of the route to the summit. Of 
course he had then no idea of climbing it, but the 
weather being very fine he hoped that some one would 
attempt the ascent while he was at Chamonix, in which 
case he would have offered his services as porter. As 
a matter of fact, on the day of his departure Mademoiselle 
d'Angeville arrived. 

On his return from his tour he commenced practice 
as a surgeon, but his mind was still full of Mont Blanc. 

The "Literary Institute" was in its infancy in those 
days. One was just founded at Chertsey, and Albert 
Smith conceived the idea of writing " a grand lecture 
about the Alps." He looked up the early pictures he 
had painted when a boy, copied them on a larger scale, 
and " contriving some simple mechanism — with the aid 
of a carpenter — ^to make them roll," he selected the most 
interesting portions of Auldjo's narrative, and with a 
few interpolations of his own made a decided hit. He 
visited Richmond, Brentford, Guildford, Staines, Ham- 
mersmith, Southwark and other places, the inhabitants 
of which were enlightened upon the theory of glaciers 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

and the dangers of the Grand Plateau. He must have 
been a bold youth, or he would hardly have ventured 
to describe the way up a mountain which he had never 
climbed ; but the early pictures by his own hand formed 
the germ of the panorama afterwards painted by Beverley, 
and the boyish lecture ultimately developed into the 
entertainment at the Egyptian Hail. He soon gave up 
his profession, for which he felt unsuited, and devoted 
himself to literature, in which he gradually acquired a 
reputation in his own line. 

He was one of the earliest contributors to PiuicJi, he 
wrote several extravaganzas, and adapted the Christmas 
Stories of Charles Dickens for performance at the Lyceum 
Theatre. George Augustus Sala wrote of him that " he 
was good, brave, and charitable, and that he never said 
a hasty word that he did not atone for a hundredfold 
by a kind action." The verdict of Spielman in his 
" History of Punch " is not so favourable. Albert Smith, 
he says, "was usually the butt of the jokers." He was 
greatly disliked by Thackeray, and was the object of 
the constant ribaldry of Douglas Jerrold. The latter 
caustic and often ill-natured critic, having observed the 
initials "A.S." at the foot of one of Smith's magazine 
articles, is said to have quietly remarked " that the 
signature conveyed only two-thirds of the truth." ^ There 
is no doubt that his tastes in art and literature were 
anything but lofty, and he had a sense of his own 
importance which almost approached the sublime. He 

' Henry Vi/.etelly, " Glances Back throutjh Seventy Years." London : Kegaa 
Paal, 1893. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

was known as "Albert the Great " and *' Lord Smith," 
and even Charles Dickens, always gentle and considerate 
to his fellow craftsmen, had to admit that " we all have 
our Smiths." But whatever may be said in his disfavour, 
this at least must be recorded to his credit, that he loved 
the mountain for its own sake and that his admiration 
was the growth of years. When he took his annual 
holiday he would always when possible find his way to 
Chamonix, where he became a great favourite among the 
hotel-keepers and the guides. To this day, a handsome 
suite of rooms on the second floor of the Hotel de 
Londres is labelled " Appartements de M. Albert Smith." 
He was emphatically a showman from his youth, but 
it is not true that he ascended the mountain for the 
purpose of making a show of it. His well-known enter- 
tainment resulted from the lifelong interest which he 
had taken in the great summit, of which he never failed 
to speak or to write both with reverence and affection. 

His first appearance as an entertainer was in the 
" Overland Mail," which was exceedingly popular. It was 
written by himself, was illustrated by Beverley, and was 
full of songs and c4iaracter sketches, the result of a 
journey he had made to Egypt and Constantinople. 
The piece had a long run, and at the close of the season, 
in August, 185 1, he again went to his beloved Chamonix, 
fully determined to climb the mountain, and assuring his 
friends, who expressed grave doubts as to his success, 
that " pluck will serve me instead of training." 

Times had changed since his first visit to the Valley. 
Geneva was now only forty-six hours from London. 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

The old diligences had disappeared before the iron road. 
The highway between Geneva and Sallanches had been 
greatly improved, and four excellent hotels at Chamonix 
had superseded the little inn kept by Tairraz, and 
the modest auberge in which Saussure and his family 
had been entertained. Smith's old ideas of economy 
still prevailed, for he took with him no more articles of 
clothing than could be contained in the well-worn knap- 
sack which he had used in 1838. Indeed he records 
with glee that he travelled from London in the same 
train by which the Lord Mayor and some members of 
the Corporation journeyed to Paris to attend the fetes 
held in honour of the Great Exhibition, and who, not 
having their luggage under the seat of the railway carriage, 
found on their arrival that the whole of it was lost. 
Smith had come direct from London, and was sadly out 
of condition, but he sent for Jean Tairraz and consulted 
with him upon the practicability of an ascent. Tairraz 
told him that the weather was about to change, that 
Smith himself was not personally fit for the excursion, 
but that he would call a meeting of the leading guides 
the following morning, and acquaint Smith in due course 
with the result. 

Albert Smith was not the only man who had deter- 
mined to conquer Mont Blanc in the year 1851. Six 
gentlemen, undergraduates of Christ Church, Oxford, 
with a tutor, formed a readmg party at the Hotel de 
I'Ancre at Ouchy on the Lake of Geneva. 

On the twenty-fifth of July, Mr. W. E. Sackville West, 
Mr. Francis Philips, and Mr. C. G. Floyd, three members 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

of the party, were rowing between Ouchy and Morges. 
Suddenly they saw towering in the south the snowy 
summit of Mont Blanc. They were greatly struck, as 
so many other men have been, at the sight of the great 
mountain from this faultless point of view. "Why 
should we not be on the top before another month 
is over ? " said one of them. " Richards of Trinity 
ascended last year, why should not we ? " A compact 
was at once entered into, and if these three gentlemen 
had at the time been members of the Alpine Club, they 
could not have taken more pains to ensure the success 
of their enterprise. They went into thorough training, 
steadily resisted the various allurements of the Ouchy 
" cuisine," and while not neglecting their duties as a 
reading party, took severe and systematic exercise. On 
the first of August, whilst Smith was starting on his 
journey from London to Geneva, Mr. Philips hastened 
to Villeneuve, and went from thence by diligence to 
Martigny. Crossing the Tete Noire the next day, he was 
struck speechless with astonishment at the sight of the 
Glacier of Argentiere, the first he had ever seen. On 
reaching Chamonix he was introduced to Jean Carrier, 
told him of his intention, and that his two friends would 
join him on the following day. Jean Carrier was quite 
equal to the situation. He inquired the ages of Mr. 
Philips' two friends, and whether they were strong and 
able to undergo fatigue. On receiving a satisfactory 
response, he stated that " he thought the travellers might 
manage it with four guides each." Mr. Philips at once 
made an excursion on the Glacier des Bossons, and the 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

next day visited the Montanvert and the Mer de Glace, 
On his return he met his friends, Mr. West and Mr. 
Floyd, and they were informed that "a Mr. Smith of 
London " wished to accompany them. As they had no 
acquaintance with Smith they decHned the honour, but 
finding out later that it was " Mr. Albert Smith, the well- 
known comic author," they introduced themselves, and 
proposed to make one party, to which he readily assented. 
The weather broke, and for some days an ascent was 
impossible, the young Oxford men, however, making 
daily expeditions, and getting into excellent training. 
On the evening of the tenth of August the wind changed, 
rain and clouds disappeared as if by magic, the guides 
predicted continuous fine weather, and that in two days 
the ascent might be attempted. 

Smith's travelling companion was Mr. William Beverley, 
to whom he confided his money and his spare clothes, 
requesting him to take them home with him if their 
owner failed to return. He was not in good health, 
and could not sleep from excitement. On the morning 
of Tuesday, the twelfth of August, everything was ready. 
The guides and porters had a repast in the garden of 
the hotel, all were in high spirits, the barometer was 
rising, and the sky was steadfast blue. Those of us who 
in modern days have climbed the mountain with a 
" poulet," and some bread and butter, and one or two 
bottles of wine carried on our backs in a small knapsack, 
may well stand appalled when we read of the stupendous 
provision of food and drink then deemed necessary for 
a similar expedition. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

The following is a complete list of the articles taken 
up the mountain by Albert Smith and his friends : 

60 bottles of Vin Ordinare. 

6 packets of sugar. 

6 „ 

10 „ 

„ Bordeaux. 
„ St. George. 

4 » » prunes. 
4 „ „ raisins. 

15 .- 

„ St. Jean. 

2 „ „ salt. 

„ Cognac. 
„ syrup of rasp- 

4 wax candles, 

6 lemons. 

4 legs of mutton. 

6 „ 

„ lemonade. 

4 shoulders of mutton, 

2 „ 
20 loaves. 

„ champagne. 

6 pieces of veal. 
I piece of beef. 

10 small cheeses. 

1 1 large fowls. 

6 packets 

; of chocolate. 

35 small fowls. 

Such provision against contingencies necessarily in- 
volved the employment of a host of porters, and as each 
traveller had four guides, the party consisted of twenty 
persons exclusive of the porters, who made twenty mofe. 
Such an enormous caravan had rarely started for the 
conquest of the mountain. They set out at half-past 
seven, Smith following the old custom of riding a mule 
for part of the way, his companions, however, preferring 
to dispense with such unnecessary assistance. At about 
ten they reached the Pierre Pointue, and a little later the 
Pierre a I'echelle, where they rested half an hour. Taking 
to the glacier they worked their way upwards, and about 
halfway to the Grands Mulcts the porters departed, and 
at about four in the afternoon the usual sleeping place 
on the rocks of the Grands Mulcts was attained. 

They followed the old custom of climbing the rocks 
from base to summit, and set to work to clear away the 
snow from their stony lair. They found the heat not 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

only sultry but even distressing, and selecting what they 
deemed necessary from their multifarious stores, they 
dined with an excellent appetite. The banquet had 
hardly commenced when they were joined by an Irish 
gentleman with one guide, who had made use of the 
track, and later by Mr. Vansittart, who, according to 
Smith, " arrived with his guide." They made no attempt 
at the construction of a tent, and Smith, using as a pillow 
the old knapsack " which had served him on the Mediter- 
ranean and the Nile," found his couch sufficiently com- 
fortable. They had a glorious evening, and Smith was 
spell-bound at the wondrous beauty of the scene ; the 
starry heaven was their only roofing, and one by one 
they fell asleep. They were wise enough to start early 
on the morning of the thirteenth. Leaving by lantern 
light at about midnight, they at once took to the snow, 
the Irish gentleman, evidently not a Nationalist, shouting 
" God save the Queen," and Mr. Vansittart getting ready 
for departure. In three hours and a half, the air being 
sharp and cold, they arrived at the Grand Plateau, having 
been delayed a little by a large crevasse, round which, 
however, Auguste D^vouassoud found a practicable way. 
Here they halted, notwithstanding the intense cold, and 
were joined by the other parties, the whole forming a 
huge caravan. Proceeding upwards they looked down 
into the crevasse into which an avalanche had swept the 
guides of Dr. Hamel, and Tairraz whispered to Smith, 
"C'est ici, monsieur, que mon frere Auguste est p6ri en 
1820 avec Balmat et Carrier ; les pauvres corps sont 
encore la bas." 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

The route was of course perfectly easy, and it is difficult 
to comprehend Smith's assertion that " Every step we 
took was gained from the chance of a horrible death." 
Working up the Corridor they made for the Rochers 
Rouges. The Irish gentleman who had been forcing the 
pace gave in, and was seen " lying on the snow, vomiting 
frightfully with considerable haemorrhage from the nose." 
He returned to the Grands Mulcts, where he was found 
on the descent by the other members of the party. The 
sun rose, but the north-east wind was bitterly cold, and 
Smith, who was chilled and dispirited, was nearly at the 
end of his resources. At the foot of the Mur de la Cote 
he sat down on the snow, told his guides he would go no 
further, and that they might leave him there if they 
pleased. The guides were accustomed to these ebullitions 
of temper at that elevation ; they induced the jaded 
traveller to get his wandering wits in order, and the party 
plodded steadily on. The angle of the Cote, according 
to Smith, was sixty degrees. It is really forty-five. An 
hour was occupied in getting to the top of the Mur, when 
Smith could hardly combat an irrepressible desire to 
sleep, but he was dragged on ; his senses were not under 
control, and he reeled and staggered like a drunken 
man. His physical condition was the only excuse for 
his gross exaggeration in describing this well-known 

" It is an all but perpendicular iceberg. You begin to 
ascend it obliquely ; there is nothing below but a chasm 
in the ice, more frightful than anything yet passed. 
Should the foot slip or the baton give way there is no 

The Ascent by Albert Smith 

chance for life. You would glide like lightning from one 
frozen crag to another, and finally be dashed to pieces 
hundreds and hundreds of feet below, in the horrible 
depths of the glacier." 

As a matter of fact the Mur de la Cote, though one of 
the steepest bits of the journey, is perfectly safe, and the 
traveller, if he fell upon it, would be landed on soft snow 
at the bottom, the only drawback being that the climb 
so far must be made over again. 

Smith was wholly out of training and naturally suffered 
from such unusual exertion, and the absurd terms in 
which he describes the situation may therefore be 
excused. He says, " Placed 14,000 feet above the level 
of the sea," on a spot " terminating in an icy abyss so 
deep that the bottom is lost in obscurity, exposed, in a 
highly rarefied atmosphere, to a wind cold and violent 
beyond all conception, assailed with muscular powers 
already taxed far beyond their strength, and nerves 
shaken by constantly increasing excitement and want of 
rest, with bloodshot eyes and a raging thirst, and a pulse 
leaping rather than beating ; with all this, it may be 
imagined that the frightful Mur de la Cote calls for more 
than ordinary determination to mount it." But the 
guides kept on dragging at the rope, steps were cut up 
the Calotte, Smith— sometimes falling on his hands 
and knees — was absolutely exhausted, but the tug of the 
rope was inexorable, and almost at his last gasp, he found 
that the ardent wish of years was gratified and that he 
was on the summit of Mont Blanc. He fell on the snow 
and was asleep in an instant, but after a few minutes' rest 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

he recovered, and the day being cloudless he was able to 
get some satisfaction from the great spectacle which was 
unfolded to his view. 

The journey from the sleeping place occupied only 
nine hours, by no means bad walking for so large a party. 
Leaving the summit at half-past nine, they regained the 
Grands Mulcts between one and two. The last scrap of 
food and the last bottle of wine were duly consumed, 
and hurrying downwards they organised an imposing 
procession at the village of Pelerins, and marched into 
Chamonix amidst a roar of Alpine artillery and the 
acclamations of the inhabitants. 

Mr. Philips states that the whole party began the climb 
with the feeling that the fatigue and danger were much 
exaggerated. Smith intended to " expose the whole affair 
as an imposition," fancying — not indeed without cause — 
that the guides were leagued together to overestimate the 
hazard of the journey. The whole party were more than 
satisfied at the amount of real strain which the ascent 
imposed on the individual. Mr. Floyd, as well as Albert 
Smith, suffered from nausea and headache. Mr. Van- 
sittart, who followed with three guides, fell from 
exhaustion several times and his thirst was insatiable. 
Mr. Philips, like Albert Smith, slept soundly on the 
summit, and all the members of the party returned with 
their faces much swollen and blistered. 

Smith died on the twenty -third of May, i860. Mr. 
West, Mr. Floyd, and Mr. Philips still retain delightful 
memories of their ascent made nearly half a century 
ago, and the tutor of the Ouchy reading party 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

was Mr. (now Dr.) Kitchin, the present Dean of 

Albert Smith wrote an account of his ascent to the 
Times newspaper, which appeared in that journal on the 
twentieth of August, 1851, but he was not courteous 
enough to give the names of his companions. Much 
public interest was excited, and a controversy arose as to 
whether the end justified the risk. Letters on both sides 
appeared in the Daily News, to which journal both Mr. 
Floyd and Mr. Vansittart sent communications. The 
late Sir Robert Peel was at Chamonix at the time, and 
celebrated the occasion by asking all the guides who 
were not on the mountain to a supper in honour of the 
event. Mountaineering was then in its infancy. The 
critics were for the most part unfriendly. Such expe- 
ditions were then regarded with ridicule or even with 
contempt. The Daily Mews summed up the situation as 
follows : " Balloon ascents and ascents of Mont Blanc 
are not things to be condemned in the abstract. Trea- 
sures of pictorial thought, which men like Saussure and 
Forbes have brought back with them from their visits to 
the summit of the Monarch of Mountains, cannot be 
overestimated. But the aeronauts who peril their lives 
for the purpose of earning a few shillings as showmen, 
or to gratify an idle vanity, belong to a very different 

" "The Story of Mont Blanc," bj' Albert Smith ; London, Bogue, 1853. " Mont 
Blanc," by Albert Smith, with a memoir of the author by Edmund Yates ; London, 
Ward and Lock, i860. " A Reading Party in Switzerland," by Francis Philips, 
privately printed ; Manchester, 1851. Letter by C. G. Floyd to Daily News, 
August 27, 1851. Letter by G. N. Vansittart to Daily Navs, August 30, 1851. 
" An Ascent of Mont Blanc," Fraser's Magazine, July, 1855, by C. G. Floyd. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

category from the adventurers we have* just alluded to. 
Our aeronauts only risk their own necks, of the value of 
which they probably form a very accurate estimate when 
they peril them so lightly, but the climbers of Mont Blanc 
expose to the hazard of their lives the brave and worthy 
mountain guides, and the families of these gallant fellows 
to the loss of their natural supporters. Saussure's obser- 
vations and his reflections on Mont Blanc live in his 
poetical philosophy ; those of Mr. Albert Smith will be 
appropriately recorded in a tissue of indifferent puns and 
stale fast witticisms with an incessant straining after 
smartness. The aimless scramble of the four pedestrians 
to the top of Mont Blanc, with the accompaniment of 
Sir Robert Peel's orgies at the bottom, will not go far to 
redeem the somewhat equivocal reputation of the herd 
of English tourists in Switzerland, for a mindless and 
rather vulgar redundance of mere animal spirits." 

Mr. Vansittart at once criticised his critic. He was a 
great traveller and an accomplished man. Why ridi- 
cule, he asked mere amateur aeronauts or climbers of 
Mont Blanc ? " Having walked under the sea in a diving 
apparatus at a depth of more than a hundred feet, having 
descended into the bowels of the earth both in the iron 
mines of Dannemora in Sweden and the salt mines in 
Poland, having made balloon ascents and climbed many 
high mountains, I can safely assert that there is a pleasure 
in such enterprises altogether unknown to those who 
have not experienced them." 

Notwithstanding many catastrophes, it is the fact that 
amongst the mountains no man need really risk his own 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

life or that of his guides, if he carefully adopts those 
rules of prudence and precaution which experience has 
found to be essential. Let every man ride his own 
hobby horse, but not necessarily expect anybody else to 
get up behind. 

Criticism is good for all of us, but it is really valuable 
in proportion to the knowledge and ability and insight 
of the critic. The time was rapidly approaching when 
some of the finest intellects of the day began to find out 
that the best alterative for mental labour was moun- 
taineering, and that no solace or rest or recreation was 
comparable to that which can be obtained by a practical 
knowledge of the High Alps. 

Albert Smith soon turned his excursion to good 
account. He was not the first, however, who gave 
a public exhibition of the mountain. One Robert Burford 
made drawings of the chain from the Flegere in 1835, 
and constructed a panorama of Mont Blanc, the valley 
of Chamonix and the surrounding mountains, which was 
long exhibited in Leicester Square. Visitors received 
a printed description of the panorama written in a style 
that is rather turgid than impressive, and which contained 
the following passage : — 

" To present a clear and intelligible image of a scene 
so fearfully grand and imposing by a verbal description 
is impossible, the most fertile imagination aided by the 
pen of a Byron, or the matchless pencil of a Claude in 
a painting of moderate size, must alike fail to convey an 
adequate impression of the reality, for nature is here 
almost too magnificent, and the whole is on a scale of 

193 O 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

such inconceivable vastness that it sets at defiance any 
attempt to depict it with ordinary means ; the panorama, 
alone, and that to an extent considerably beyond its 
usual limits, can hope to approach anything like a fair 
delineation of this sublime scene, and even that, vast as it 
is, must fall far short of presenting it in all its glorious 
and ever varying beauty." 

But Albert Smith was a born entertainer, and had 
already felt the pulse of the public in his " Overland Mail." 
He took the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, and gave his 
first entertainment of " The Ascent of Mont Blanc " on 
the evening of the fifteenth of March, 1852. 

His pictures were all drawn by William Beverley. 
There was one of Geneva ; another of the east end of the 
Lake showing the well-known Castle of Chillon. There 
were pictures of the Bridge and Tower of Martigny, and 
of the Convent of the Great Saint Bernard. There was 
a gruesome illustration of the dead-house attached to that 
monastery, an admirable delineation of the Tete Noire 
pass, and of Mont Blanc as seen from the summit of the 
Col de Balme. 

The second part of the entertainment related exclusively 
to Chamonix and Mont Blanc. There was a picture of 
the Cascade des Pelerins, and of the Pierre a I'echelle, of 
the glaciers of Bossons and Taconnay, of the Grands 
Mulets rocks by sunset, and of the passage of the Grand 
Plateau by moonlight. There was a gross caricature of 
the Mur de la Cote and of the summit, of the supposed 
perils of the descent, and finally an excellent picture of 
the courtyard of Tairraz' hotel at Chamonix. The 


The Ascent by Albert Smith 

narrative was well told, and nothing was lost in the 
telling. Patter songs were interspersed. Great St. 
Bernard dogs lay in front of the stalls, and on the closing 
night of each season beautiful bouquets were presented 
to the ladies by the entertainer. Albert Smith's Mont 
Blanc " caught on," and became universally popular. 
Crowds of persons flocked to the show, which was 
patronised by Her Majesty and the late Prince Consort. 
The run continued for six years. The route of approach 
to Chamonix was constantly varied, the songs and 
character sketches were changed from time to time, but 
" Mont Blanc " was always kept as the central point of 
attraction. Smith is said to have made thirty thousand 
pounds by his entertainment. " Prosperity," says Bacon, 
"doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best dis- 
cover virtue." Smith was laughed at for perpetually 
flaunting before his friends the certificate under seal 
which he had obtained from the " guide chef " in proof 
of his successful ascent, as if doubt might have been cast 
upon his story in the absence of such evidence. But 
success did him no harm. It is but just to his memory 
to record that he, too, was a pioneer. Mountaineering 
was not then a recognised sport for Englishmen. The 
ascent of Mont Blanc w-as regarded by some with grow- 
ing interest, b)' others with a contemptuous indiflference. 
Hitherto any information about the great mountain had 
to be sought for in isolated publications difficult to 
obtain, in the pages of magazines or the daily press. 
Smith brought a more or less accurate knowledge of it, as 
it were, to the hearths and homes of educated Englishmen. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Up to 1851, though Mont Blanc had been climbed so 
often, the High Alps were practically unexplored. It is 
true that James David Forbes had climbed the Jungfrau 
in 1841, and that his great work was published only two 
years later, but this well-known classic dealt more with 
theory than with practice, Agassiz and Charpentier, both 
friends of Forbes, were men of science, not mountaineers. 
That mountaineering was certain to take its place amongst 
recognised English sports was obvious enough, but 
Smith's entertainment gave an undoubted impetus to the 
movement. During the very period that he was lecturing 
to London crowds, the work of Alpine exploration had 
seriously commenced. Alfred Wills and Thomas Wood- 
bine Hinchliff added materially to our Alpine knowledge 
between the years 1852 and 1856. In 1854 the former 
gentleman climbed the Wetterhorn from Grindelwald, 
and Mr. E. S. Kennedy ascended one of the main peaks 
of Monte Rosa. In 1855, Messrs. Grenville and 
Christopher Smyth, with Messrs. Hudson, Birkbeck, 
and Stevenson, reached the highest summit of Monte 
Rosa, and with Mr. Kennedy climbed Mont Blanc with- 
out guides. Possibly more than enough is here recorded 
of the particular ascent which made Mont Blanc known 
to so many of our countrymen, but it must not be for- 
gotten that scores of men who afterwards distinguished 
themselves in the exploration of the great Alps, first had 
their imaginations fired by listening to the interesting 
story told at the Egyptian Hall. 


Albert Sniilb. 

[To face fage 196. 



BY the year 1856 increased railway facilities brought 
the Alps within reach of the professional classes, 
and many men in search of health and adventure began 
to make regular visits to the great playground. They 
went out and climbed and talked over their discoveries, 
but their successes were seldom chronicled. Yet it was 
very desirable to have accurate information as to summits 
that had been attained, as to difficulties that had been 
experienced, and as to how such difficulties could be 
overcome. If it were possible to gather together some of 
the men to whom an annual journey to the peaks and 
glaciers of the Alps was now becoming a matter of 
course ; if ideas could be interchanged on Alpine geo- 
graphy and Alpine possibilities ; if men bent on a com- 
mon object could make each other's acquaintance and 
plan expeditions in concert, what a new field might be 
opened for enjoyment and exploration. 

So at least thought Mr. William Mathews, fresh from 
St. John's College, Cambridge, who climbed Mont Velan 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

in 1854, and who two years later (accompanied by the 
author) thoroughly investigated the Val de Bagnes, 
ascended the Petit Combin and the Mont Avril, specu- 
lated upon the possibility of reaching the summit of the 
Grand Combin, or Graffeneire, and then crossing the Col 
du Mont Rouge from the Dranse to the yet unknown 
Arolla, and traversing the Col d'Herens to Zermatt, 
reached that village in those older and happier days, 
when the little Hotel du Mont Rose was a veritable haven 
of rest, and Alexander Seller — most courteous of hosts — 
and his charming wife, now gone to their rest, were both 
blooming and young. 

Visitors at Zermatt were rare at that date, and were not 
altogether of the same type as the herd of tourists now 
brought up by railway from the valley of the Rhone to 
crowd the hotels, not of the village only, but of the Riffel 
Alp and Riffelberg, and, alas ! also of the once lonely 
and beautiful Gornergrat. The welcome company of 
Mr. Montagu Butler, Senior Classic at Cambridge in 
1855, now Master of Trinity, and of the late Dr. Carson 
of Dublin, and a memorable ascent of Monte Rosa in 
their company, served to enforce the advantages of har- 
monious co-operation amongst those who were lovers and 
climbers of the hills. 

On the first of February, 1857, Mr. William Mathews 
wrote a letter to his friend, the Rev. F. J. A. Hort, after- 
\yards Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, in the follow- 
ing words : — 

" I want you to consider whether it would not be 
possible to establish an Alpine Club, the members of 


The Formation of the Alpine Club 

which might dine together once a year, say in London, 
and give each other what information they could. Each 
member at the close of any Alpine tour in Switzerland or 
elsewhere, should be required to furnish to the president a 
short account of all the undescribed excursions he had 
made, with a view to the publication of an annual or 
biennial volume. We should thus get a great deal of 
useful information in a form available to the members." ^ 
In the month of August in the same year Mr. William 
Mathews met the late Edward Shirley Kennedy in the 
Hash Thai. Both were bent on an ascent of the Fin- 
steraarhorn. The party also included Mr. B. St. John 
Mathews, the Rev. J. F. Hardy, and Mr. Ellis, all members 
of the University of Cambridge. The expedition was 
successful, and the idea of the formation of an Alpine 
Club was thoroughly discussed. On the sixth of Novem- 
ber some of the Finsteraarhorn party met at the Lea- 
sowes, in Worcestershire, and it was then decided to 
carry the idea into practical execution. The names of 
those present at that historic meeting were, Mr. William 
Mathews, senior, now deceased, Mr. William and Mr. 
B. St. John Mathews, Mr. E. S. Kennedy, and the 
author of this volume. Plans were fully considered, and 
Kennedy undertook to communicate with those who were 
deemed likely to join. The ground was already well pre- 
pared, and Mr. John Ball, the first President of the Club, 
struck the right note when he wrote in his preface to • 
" Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers," that — 

' '• Life and Letters ot Fenton John Anthony Hort." London, Macmillan, 1896, 
%'ol. i. p. 370. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

"In the accidental intercourse of those who have been 
engaged in such expeditions, it has been perceived that 
the community of taste and feeling amongst those who in 
the life of the High Alps have shared the same enjoy- 
ments, the same labours and the same dangers, constitutes 
a bond of sympathy stronger than many of those by which 
men are drawn into association." 

The original members, or at any rate those who were 
elected prior to 1858, were as follow : Charles Ainslie, 
E. L. Ames, E. Anderson, C. J. Blomfield, E. T. Cole- 
man, Rev. J. Llewellyn Davies, A. D. Dickens, Rev. J. F. 
Hardy, F. Vaughan Hawkins, Robert B. Hayward, T. W. 
Hinchliff, Rev. F. J. A. Hort, E. S. Kennedy, Rev. J. B. 
Lightfoot, W. Longman, William Mathews, B. St. John 
Mathews, C. E. Mathews, W. R. Maynard, Francis 
Philips, E. B. Prest, Rev. E. J. Shepherd, Albert Smith, 
Rev. Isaac Taylor, Henry Trower, Rev. H. W. Watson, 
Robert Walters, J. B. S. Williams, Alfred Wills, C. W. 
Wilshire, Geo. V. Yool. 

The majority are of course no longer amongst us, but 
it speaks volumes in favour of the healthful and invigo- 
rating nature of our pursuit that of the thirty-one original 
members, eleven survive ; six of whom, from various 
causes, have fallen out of our ranks, but the remaining 
five still continue members of the Club v/hich they helped 
to found, notwithstanding the changes and chances of 
forty years. 

The formation of the Alpine Club is strictly relevant to 
the annals of Mont Blanc. Many of its members went 
in pursuit of new peaks, but an almost equal object of 


New Routes up Mont Blanc 

ambition was the ascent of an old mountain from a new 
side ; and it is interesting to note that every discovery of 
a new way to the summit was made either by a member, 
or by one who afterwards became a member, of the 
newly-formed Association. 

Mr. E. S. Kennedy began. It will be remembered that 
up to this time only one route had been discovered, that 
by way of the Grands Mulcts and the Grand Plateau. 
Whether men ascended by the " ancien passage " or by 
the Corridor and the Mur de la Cote, mattered little, the 
route was practically the same. Kennedy was desirous 
of finding out a new way, and to dispense with the aid of 
guides. This was a novel departure. At that time the 
guide system of Chamonix was costly and oppressive. 
Why should a competent mountaineer have been forced 
to take more guides than he required, or be unable to 
make a selection of those in whom he had the most con- 
fidence ? 

In August, 1855, a party of young and gallant moun- 
taineers met in the valley of Aosta. It consisted of E. S. 
Kennedy and Charles Hudson, of Grenville and Chris- 
topher Smyth, of E. J. Stevenson and Charles Ainslie. 
They crossed the Col du Geant, and, sending back their 
porters from the Col, endeavoured to find their way to a 
camping ground near the foot of the Aiguille du Midi, 
hoping to gain the summit of Mont Blanc from its 
eastern side. They did not, however, get so far as the 
base of the Midi, and pitched their tent at no great dis- 
tance from the Col. After a wretched night they made 
an early start, and reached a spot between the Aiguille du 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Midi and the Mont Blanc du Tacul, overlooking the 
Glacier des Bossons. Proceeding upward, one of the 
party reached the summit of the Tacul, from which he 
obtained a view of Mont Maudit and Mont Blanc. But 
the wind and the mist proved too much for them ; they 
retreated to the Col du Gc;ant, descended to Courmayeur, 
and thence went on to Saint Gervais. 

On Monday, the thirteenth, they made a new start, 
engaged some chamois hunters of La Villette to act as 
porters as far as the foot of the Aiguille du Gouter, and 
set out from the then well-known Alpine quarters of the 
Hotel Mont Joli. Passing Bionay and Bionnassay, they 
made for the Tete Rousse, and inspected with great inte- 
rest the remains of the cabin constructed for Horace 
Benedict de Saussure seventy years before. Half an hour 
higher up they halted at two small huts, then recently 
erected as refuges for the benighted chamois hunter. 
They repaired the walls of one of the huts and impro- 
vised a roof, the porters were dismissed, the night was 
fine, and the bivouac sufficiently comfortable. Stevenson 
unfortunately fell ill and could not proceed, but the rest 
of the party set out at four o'clock on the fourteenth, the 
morning being brilliant but cold. Soon after six they 
were on the summit of the Aiguille du Gouter, and 
mounted gently towards the Dome. Here the summit of 
Mont Blanc was in full view, and " seemed to hail their 
approach and bid them a kindly welcome." They 
arrived at the depression between the Dome and the 
Bosses du Dromadaire, but here the old difficulty arose. 

It was still held that the Bosses barred the way. The 


New Routes up Mont Blanc 

party were unanimous in thinking that there was nothing 
to stop active and determined mountaineers. But the 
north wind was strong and cold, and instead of making 
the first ascent of Mont Blanc by its western ridge, as 
they might easily have done, they descended to the Grand 
Plateau, mounted from thence by the usual route of the 
Corridor and the Mur de la Cote, and between twelve and 
one were on the top, the march from the sleeping place 
having occupied only eight and a half hours. From the 
summit two of the party proceeded along the western 
ridge and examined the Bosses from above, but could 
detect nothing to prevent the ascent being made by that 
route. It seems a pity that so gallant a band should not 
have attempted to descend by the Bosses, but the idea, if 
ever entertained, was abandoned. Leaving the Bosses 
route still incomplete, the party rapidly descended to- 
wards Chamonix. Night overtook them before the village 
was gained, and finding a chalet full of dry hay, they 
slept the sleep of the thoroughly tired, creeping into 
Chamonix early on the following morning, unnoticed and 

This was a fine expedition, and it was the first time 
that the mountain had been ascended from the side of 
Saint Gervais. Leaving out of consideration the journey 
of Paccard and Balmat, it was the first time that it had 
been climbed without guides. Hudson and Kennedy in 
their charming little book ^ claimed to have ascended by 
a new route, but it was not so. The Aiguille and the 

« "Where there's a Will there's a Way," by Charles Hudson and Edward Shirley 
Kennedy. London, Longmans, 1856. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Dome du Gouter were both well known. Guides and 
chamois hunters had climbed them again and again. 
Kennedy and his party were stopped by the same obstacle 
that barred the progress of Jacques Balmat. From Saint 
Gervais to this spot the route was not new, and directly 
Kennedy's party descended to the Grand Plateau they 
struck the ordinary route of ascent from the Chamonix 
side. While, therefore, every credit must be given to 
them for a fine performance under new conditions, it is 
not less the duty of an impartial chronicler of events to 
decline to accord them the honour of having discovered 
a new route up Mont Blanc, Hudson, however, was not 
to be discouraged by one failure. He returned to the 
assault in the year 1859, and settled once and for ever the 
question of the practicability of the Bosses ridge. Hud- 
son's party consisted of himself, Mr. G. C. Hodgkinson, 
and Mr. Joad, and they were led by Melchior Anderegg. 
Climbing by the ordinary route to the Grand Plateau, 
they turned to the right and reached the depression 
between the Dome and the Bosses ; ascending the two 
humps of the Dromedary, they gained the Calotte, and 
proceeding along the western ridge, duly arrived upon 
the summit of the mountain. And so at last the great 
Bosses imposture was exposed. This route, so long 
deemed impossible, is now, as already stated, the ordinary 
route to the summit from the side of Chamonix. In 
settled weather it presents no difficulty, but when the 
snow on the ridge turns to ice, or when severe wind or 
cold is experienced, it is still enough to test the resources 
of the most accomplished and determined mountaineer. 



New Routes up Mont Blanc 

This route was, after all, only a variation of the 
Chamonix way ; as far as the Grand Plateau the track 
is identical. The excursion is of surpassing beauty, and 
there is no more magnificent walk in the Alps than the 
ascent of Mont Blanc by the Bosses du Dromadaire, and 
the descent by the Mur de la Cote and the Corridor, or 
vice versa. The preferable line of ascent is by the Bosses, 
as the sun is encountered much earlier than when the 
mountain is taken in the opposite direction. 

Hudson was a born mountaineer ; no member of the 
early band of pioneers had a liner reputation ; he was the 
Bayard of early mountaineering chivalry. Alas ! he 
perished untimely in the first ascent of the Matterhorn, 
and lies with Hadow — one of his companions in the 
catastrophe — under the northern wall of the old church 
at Zermatt. 

Mont Blanc had never yet been ascended from Saint 
Gervais to the summit by the whole western route. This 
feat was reserved for Mr. Leslie Stephen and Mr. F. F. 
Tuckett, who, starting from Saint Gervais on the seven- 
teenth of July, 1861, camped in the wretched hut then 
recently constructed near the top of the Aiguille du 
Gouter, and gained the summit of the mountain on the 
following day by way of the Dome and the Bosses du 
Dromadaire, "thus achieving the undertaking commenced 
by Saussure and his companions seventy-six years before." 
They were led by Melchior Anderegg, J. J. Bennen, and 
Peter Perren, and were accompanied part of the way by 
the Rev. W. F. Short and Mr. Mather, but the whole 
party suffered severely from sickness on the top of the 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Aiguille du Gouter, and the two latter gentlemen were 
forced to return. No part of this expedition was new. 
From Saint Gervais to the Dome was the route taken by 
Kennedy and his companions in 1855. From the Dome 
to the summit was the line of ascent just made by Hudson 
in 1859 ; but it was the first time that men had climbed 
direct from Saint Gervais to the summit by the whole 
western ridge, and it constituted the second route to the 
summit of Mont Blanc. This line of ascent also has a 
rare charm. The magnificent views of the Aiguille de 
Bionnassay delight the traveller whilst climbing the 
Aiguille du Gouter. It is true that the hut on the latter 
peak, which until the erection of the Vallot hut was the 
highest, as it is still the most comfortless sleeping place 
in Europe, is enough to sap the vitality of any climber ; 
but if he can dispense with sleep and bear the cold, his 
starting point is less than six hours distant from Mont 
Blanc, and the views along the whole ridge, of Switzer- 
land, Savoy, and Dauphine, leave nothing to be desired. 

Before the formation of the Alpine Club it had long 
been hoped that a way might be discovered up Mont 
Blanc from the side of the Col du Geant. It will be 
remembered that this route received in early days the 
attention of Jacques Balmat. The only way by which an 
ascent was possible involved sleeping either on the Col 
du Geant, or, better still, on the ridge between the 
Aiguille du Midi and the Mont Blanc du Tacul, and then 
passing over that mountain and the Mont Maudit, de- 
scending to the Corridor, and finishing the climb by way 
of the Mur de la Cote — the end of the ordinary route 


New Routes up Mont Blanc 

from Chamonix. There is now a fairly good hut at 
the foot of the Aiguille du Midi, and this hut may be 
reached in three ways — either from the Montanvert up 
the seracs of the Geant glacier, and then by way of the 
Vallee Blanche to the ridge ; or from Chamonix to the 
Pierre a I'echelle, and thence up steep rocks to the left 
till the ridge is attained ; or direct from the Col du Geant, 
a distance of about three hours ; but from whatever point 
the hut is reached, the true route to Mont Blanc lies over 
the Tacul and the Mont Maudit to the Corridor, so that 
in fact two mountains have to be crossed before the 
summit can be attained. This route was discovered by 
Mr. J. H. Ramsay in the month of July, 1855. Sleeping 
at the foot of the Aiguille du Midi, and accompanied by 
several guides from Courmayeur, he crossed the Tacul 
and the Mont Maudit, descended to the Corridor, and 
mounted the Mur de la Cote. Here he was unfortunately 
beaten within an hour of the summit, but the new route 
was definitely ascertained. Eight years later, on the 
eighteenth of July, 1863, the complete journey was made 
by the eastern route by M. Maquelin and M. Briquet, 
two Swiss gentlemen, with several guides from Cour- 
mayeur. This was the third route to the summit. 

A variation of this route was made on the twenty-ninth 
of August, 1888. Mr. F. A. Bowlby and Mr. J. Stafford 
Anderson, accompanied by Abraham Imseng and Hans 
Aimer, left the hut on the Col du Geant about five in the 
morning, but instead of going so far north as the hut 
under the Aiguille du Midi, went about due west, and, 
working up a couloir, partly by rocks and partly by snow, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

gained the summit of the Mont Maudit at half-past ten. 
They did not reach the summit of Mont Blanc until 
seven in the evening, after fourteen hours of continuous 
exertion. This variation of the Col du Geant or eastern 
route is shorter in distance, but far longer in time. 

Practical ways having now been discovered from the 
north, east, and west, men began to think seriously of a 
way up from the south. Would it be possible to ascend 
direct from Courmayeur, and to cross the summit from 
that village to Chamonix ? Now a glacier is the usual 
approach to any great mountain. Of all the glaciers that 
flow from the snow-fields of Mont Blanc none is more 
striking than the great glacier of Brenva, which rolls 
south from the Corridor, and pushes its way into the 
Allee Blanche almost to the pastures of Entreves. So 
far back as 1855 Charles Hudson had his eye upon this 
route. He wrote to Kennedy on the nineteenth of May 
in that year, informing him that Mr. Birkbeck had in- 
spected the mountain upwards from the Col du Geant, 
and downwards from the foot of the Mur de la Cote, and 
had come to the conclusion that it could be ascended 
from Courmayeur. The dread of the mountain was 
waning before increased knowledge and ever-increasing 
mountaineering experience. The Brenva glacier had a 
special reputation for danger. Kennedy and Hudson did 
not attempt it. The mountains are full of instances 
where some men labour and others enter into their 
labours. In the year 1863, Mr. A. W. Moore arrived at 
Courmayeur to see what could be done from that 
direction. He was attended by Melchior Anderegg, 



New Routes up Mont Blanc 

Christian Aimer, and Peter Perren, and all concurred in 
pronouncing it " eine miserable Dummheit." In the 
following year Moore carefully surveyed the upper por- 
tion of the Brenva glacier from the foot of the Mur de la 
Cote, as Mr. Birkbeck had previously done, and at once 
determined that Mont Blanc should be ascended by that 
route, or otherwise that the reason why it was impossible 
should be definitely ascertained. In July, 1865, Mr. 
Frank Walker, Mr. Horace Walker, Mr. Moore, and Mr. 
G. S. Mathews were at Courmayeur. They had secured 
the services of Melchior and Jakob Anderegg, and of two 
porters, Jean Michel Lasnier and Julien Grange. They 
started on the morning of the fourteenth, and before six 
in the evening found a suitable camping place high up 
the Brenva glacier on its eastern side, and passed a fairly 
comfortable night. A little before three on the morning 
of the fifteenth they were en route. They crossed the 
glacier from right to left, and, climbing a rocky buttress, 
they made a halt at a height of 12,000 feet. Above this 
buttress they came upon a narrow and formidable ice 
arete, connecting it with the mass of Mont Blanc. Jakob 
Anderegg instantly attacked it without stopping to con- 
sider whether the ridge was feasible or not. It proved 
extremely difficult, but w^as passed in safety ; and Moore 
records that, " as we looked back along our perilous path, 
it was hard to repress a shudder, and the dominant feel- 
ing of every man was one of wonder how the passage 
had been effected without accident." Pursuing their 
journey without further serious difficulty, they ultimately 
emerged upon gently sloping snow-fields, the same upon 

209 P 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

which in the previous year Moore had gazed so lovingly 
from the Mur de la Cote. Moore thought that but for 
the labour of step-cutting the summit might have been 
reached from the snow-fields on which they stood, but 
they were heavily laden, and made straight for the 
Corridor, a height of 14,217 feet, which they reached 
soon after one o'clock. At three they were on the 
summit, having been climbing uphill over twelve hours. 
At half-past ten they reached Chamonix, after an excur- 
sion of nearly twenty hours. 

If my readers will look at the picture of Mont Blanc 
from the south they will be able to trace the whole route. 
The Corridor is the lowest depression between the summit 
on the left and the Mont Maudit on the right. The 
journey from the Corridor to the summit was, of course, 
by the old Chamonix route, and so far not new, but 
every step from the lower part of the Brenva glacier to 
the Corridor was unbroken ground. The Col de la 
Brenva, now first made, was the highest and grandest 
pass over the chain of Mont Blanc, and for the first 
time men had climbed from Italy into France over the 
top of the mountain. I This was the fourth route up 
Mont Blanc. Frank Walker has joined the majority ; 
and Moore, who so well served his country and his 
club, has also passed away. 

This novel and successful ascent by the Brenva glacier 
caused great interest m Alpine circles, but some years 
elapsed before a further attempt was made to climb Mont 

' " Alpine Journal," vol. ii. p. 369 ; " The Alps in 1864," a private journal by 
A. W. Moore, 1867. 



New Routes up Mont Blanc 

Blanc from the south. It was clear that there was a 
possible, though difficult, route by the Brenva. Was 
there no other glacier flowing south from which a similar 
attempt could be made ? There was the great glacier of 
Miage, flowing due south from the Col of that name 
direct to the Allee Blanche. The lower part of this 
well-known glacier is a fearful desert, so thickly covered 
with mountain disintegration that the ice is rarely visible, 
and " is anything but convenient to a traveller in haste." 
It was well known that three other large glaciers rolled 
down the western side of Mont Blanc, forming tributaries 
of the Glacier de Miage ; was it not possible to find a 
new path to the summit by way of one of these tributary 
glaciers ? The discovery was made by accident. Mr. 
F. C. Grove, Mr. E. N. Buxton, and Mr. R. S. Macdonald 
were at Chamonix in 1865, having made the first ascent 
of the Aiguille de Bionnassay. Their guides were Jakob 
Anderegg, Jean Pierre Cachat, and young Peter Taug- 
wald of Zermatt. Their plan was to ascend the Dome 
and get down to the head of the Miage glacier. They 
left Chamonix at midnight on the sixth of August, and 
reached the Grands Mulcts soon after dawn. After a 
short halt they climbed to the summit of the Dome, 
which they did not reach till one o'clock, after thirteen 
hours' hard walking from Chamonix. They then made 
for the depression in the great ridge between the Dome 
and the Aiguille de Bionnassay, a point which had been 
reached from the opposite side by way of the Col de 
Miage the previous year by Mr. Adams Reilly, and they 
intended to descend by his route ; but straight in front of 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

them was the Glacier du Dome, leading more directly to 
that of Miage. The descent looked inviting, they yielded 
to the temptation, and went down. The snow was in a 
bad state, and the party had many adventures on the 
route ; but ultimately they traversed the Dome glacier 
in safety, and reached the upper basin of the great glacier 
of Miage at midnight, exactly twenty-four hours from the 
start. Walking through the night, they arrived at Cour- 
mayeur at half-past five in the morning, " hungry som- 
nambulists, when broad daylight and pleasant anticipation 
quickened the sleepy blood and lifted the heavy eyelids." ^ 
This, of course, was a tour de jorcCy but it was clear 
that the Dome glacier could be descended from the Dome, 
and equally clear, therefore, that Mont Blanc could be 
ascended from Courmayeur by way of the Glacier de 
Miage, the Dome glacier, the Dome, and so along the 
western ridge to the summit. Three years later this par- 
ticular ascent was made by Mr. Frederick A. G. Brown. 
He was accompanied by Julien Grange, who was already 
familiar with the Chamonix route and that from the Col 
du Geant, and had acted as porter to Mr. Moore and his 
party as far as their sleeping place on the Brenva glacier. 
Now Grange had set his heart upon an ascent by the 
Dome glacier. Most routes were in those days supposed 
to be impossible until they had been fairly tried. Even 
so competent a mountaineer as Mr. Moore had placed on 
record his opinion that no one could reach the top of 
Mont Blanc from the southern Miage, and Mr. Brown 
assumed that the ascent by the Glacier du Mont Blanc 

• " Alpine Journal," vol. ii. p. 332. 

New Routes up Mont Blanc 

was wholly impracticable ; but Mr, Adams Reilly, one of 
the ablest and most accomplished of the pioneers, had 
not only denied the term inaccessible to any portion of 
the western side, but had in his own person proved its 
accessibility from the Col de Miage. 

Mr. Brown determined to attack the mountain from 
the Dome glacier, descended, as we have seen, by Mr. 
Buxton and his party in 1865. He left Courmayeur on 
the twenty-fourth of July, 1868 ; Grange, with another 
guide and one porter, being engaged for the journey. 
They found a suitable gite in some rocks on the right 
bank of the Dome glacier and at a height of about 
9,000 feet, and a little before four on the morning of 
the twenty-fifth of July dismissed their porters and took 
to the glacier. Before nine o'clock they were on the top 
of the Dome, and about one were on the summit of Mont 
Blanc. They descended to Chamonix by the ordinary 
route, arriving a little after eight in the evening, the whole 
journey from the camp having occupied only between 
sixteen and seventeen hours. This was the fifth route up 
Mont Blanc, and new as far as the top of the Dome, 
whence the journey was pursued by the western ridge. 
A shorter and better route by the Dome glacier was dis- 
covered in 1890, and an excellent hut has been constructed 
at the foot of the Aiguilles Grises. This route is now, 
if not the shortest, certainly the most popular from the 
side of Courmayeur.^ 

The middle tributary of the Miage glacier having been 
found feasible, Mr. T. S. Kennedy, of Leeds, a dis- 

' "Alpine Journal," vol. iv. p. 261. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

tinguished climber, made up his mind to try the southern 
one, and on the first of July, 1872, set out from Cour- 
mayeur, accompanied by Jean Antoine Carrel and Johann 
Fischer, with Julien Grange as porter. After four and a 
half hours' walking they found a suitable camping place. 
On the morning of the second they sent back Grange 
with the bulk of their baggage, and started at three 
o'clock. Working up the Glacier du Mont Blanc, they 
kept a little to the left, and made straight for the Calotte. 
The rocks were steep and icy ; but, climbing steadily 
upwards, they struck the western ridge of Mont Blanc 
between the upper Bosses and the summit, and in a few 
minutes were on the top. The climb from the sleeping 
place occupied ten hours. 

This was the sixth route, and was known for some 
time as the Aiguilles Crises route, but this was a mistake. 
The topography of the western side of Mont Blanc was 
not then accurately known. Three great glaciers, as we 
have said, descend from the upper snow-fields into the 
Miage glacier almost at a right angle. The most southerly 
of these is the Glacier du Mont Blanc, which flows 
between two rocky ridges — one known as the Mont du 
Brouillard, and the other as the Rochers du Mont Blanc, 
formerly called the Aiguilles Crises. The middle glacier 
is the Glacier du Dome, by which Mr, Brown ascended, 
and the real Aiguilles Crises are north of the Glacier du 
D6me. Kennedy's track lay between the Mont du 
Brouillard and the Rochers du Mont Blanc. It is a 
magnificent route, and the shortest and most direct to 
the summit from the Italian side. Nearly every step was 


New Routes up Mont Blanc 

new, and one of its chief charms hes in the fact that the 
climb from base to summit, with the exception of the 
final twenty minutes, does not strike upon any route 
previously discovered. In due course a hut was built 
on the Rochers du Mont Blanc on the site of Kennedy's 

Many years ago the author, in company with Mr. 
Frederick Morshead and Messrs. Henry and William 
Pasteur, crossed Mont Blanc from Courmayeur to 
Chamonix by Kennedy's route, and had the pleasure 
of meeting the eminent Signor Quintino Sella on the 
way. Signor Sella, who was then advancing in years, 
took four days to cross the mountain — the first from 
Courmayeur to the hut on Kennedy's camping site ; 
the second to a higher gite where the Sella hut is 
now erected ; the third from thence over the summit 
to the Grands Mulcts ; and the fourth from the Grands 
Mulcts to Chamonix. 

Maps, like mountaineers, have been the subject of 
evolution. The first good map of the Chain of Mont 
Blanc we owe to Mr. Adams Reilly ; it was made from 
his own survey, and completed in 1864. It clearly shows 
both the Glacier du ]\Iont Blanc and the Glacier du 
Dome, and was a noble beginning ; but it does not even 
mention the Aiguilles Crises or the Mont du Brouillard. 
Then came the greatly improved map of the " Massif du 
Mont Blanc" published in 1865 by M. Mieulet, by order 
of the French Minister of War ; but this map describes 
the rocky ridges on both sides of the Glacier du Dome by 
the one name of the " Aiguilles Crises " ; and finally came 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

that most excellent map of " La Chaiiie du Mont Blanc," 
published in 1896, the work of M. Albert Barbey (Presi- 
dent of the Diablerets section of the Swiss Alpine Club), 
with the assistance of M. X. Imfeld (a member of the 
Federal Staff) and M. Louis Kurz. To this faultless pro- 
duction all explorers of the Chain are deeply indebted, 
and for the first time the Mont du Brouillard, the Glacier 
du Mont Blanc, the Rochers du Mont Blanc, the Glacier 
du Dome, and the Aiguilles Crises are all beautifully 
delineated with scrupulous fidelity to nature. 

Notwithstanding the exploits of Mr. Moore, Mr, 
Brown, and Mr. Kennedy, visitors to the glaciers fall- 
ing south from Mont Blanc were but few in number. 
On reference to the picture of Mont Blanc from the 
south it will be remarked that in addition to the Brenva 
glacier two smaller glaciers fall towards the Allee 
Blanche, and that between them rises a steep and 
rocky escarpment which extends to the snow -fields 
at the foot of the great rocks which form the 
summit of the mountain. These glaciers are the 
Brouillard and the Fresnay glaciers. It occurred to 
Mr. J. Eccles, one of the most able and persistent of 
the explorers of the Chain, that a new way might be 
discovered by one or other of them, or by the rocks 
of Mont Brouillard which form the western boundary 
of the glacier of that name. Part of the route had 
been previously explored by Mr. John Birkbeck and 
Mr. Utterson Kelso, but without result. In the month 
of July, 1875, Mr. Eccles, accompanied by Michel 
Payot of Chamonix, and two porters, set out from 


New Routes up Mont Blanc 

Courmayeur. They ascended by the rocks and grass 
slopes to the west of the end of the Fresnay glacier, and 
then getting on to the Brouillard side of the ridge, found 
a gite overlooking the little glacier of Chatelet. Starting 
at three the next morning they worked up the glacier of 
Brouillard, hoping to gain the south arete of the Mont 
Blanc de Courmayeur. In this attempt they were 
defeated, and retraced their steps to the ridge between 
the Fresnay and Brouillard glaciers. Here they examined 
with great care the southern rocks of Mont Blanc, but 
they could find no passage and came back disheartened. 
But Mr. Eccles returned to the charge two years 
later. Ascending the Cramont he carefully inspected 
through a glass the great south-eastern arete which 
stretches from the INIont Blanc de Courmayeur to the 
upper snow-fields of the Fresnay glacier, and came to 
the conclusion that there was no insuperable difficulty. 
He started at three on the morning of the twenty-eighth 
of July, accompanied by Michel and Alphonse Payot and 
two porters. At two o'clock in the afternoon they 
attained a height of 12,400 feet, and found some com- 
fortable rocks overlooking the highest icefall of the 
Fresnay glacier. Here they dismissed their porters and 
established their quarters for the night. The next morn- 
ing they encountered snow and rain, and for the second 
time a melancholy retreat was inevitable. 

But the weather changed, as it always does if only one 
has time to wait long enough, and on the evening of the 
thirtieth of July the party were again at the sleeping 
place. Leaving at three on the morning of the thirty- 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

first, and after considerable difficulty owing to ice-glazed 
rocks, they crossed the upper basin of the Fresnay 
glacier and reached the base of a great couloir which 
descends from the arete connecting the Mont Blanc de 
Courmayeur with the Aiguille Blanche de Peteret. Then 
came five hours of continuous step-cutting in hard ice 
till the ridge was attained. Thence, to the top, the way 
was laborious, but not particularly difficult ; they reached 
the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur about half-past eleven 
and the true summit at half-past twelve. Mr. Eccles 
descended by the Bosses du Dromadaire and reached 
Chamonix before five in the afternoon. The ascent from 
the sleeping place thus took nine and a half hours, but 
the start was made from a height of 12,400 feet.^ This 
was the seventh route to the summit. Men had now 
crossed from Italy to France over the great mountain by 
five different routes, but every part of the way taken by 
Mr. Eccles was practically new. His expedition involved 
over six hours' step-cutting, but it was really a tour de 
force and has been rarely repeated. Variations of this 
route have been made. The Col de Peteret has been 
reached from the side of the Fresnay glacier by a route 
slightly differing from that taken by Mr. Eccles, and also 
from the side of the Brenva glacier. The latter ex- 
pedition was made by Herr Paul Gussfeldt, a mountaineer 
of the first order, who, having climbed the Aiguille 
Blanche de Peteret, proceeded by way of the Col de 
Peteret and the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur to the true 

' "Alpine Journal," vol. viii. p. 409. 

- " Der Mont Blanc," Von Paul Gussfeldt, Berlin, 1894. 




New Routes up Mont Blanc 

Such are the various routes by which Mont Blanc has 
been cHmbed. To summarise : — 

Route I., from Chamonix on the north by way of the 
Grands Mulets and the Grand Plateau, with the 
following variations : 
(a) The " ancien passage." 
(6) The Con-idor and the Mur de la Cote, 
(c) The Bosses du Dromadaire. 

Route II., from Saint Gervais on the west, by way of 
the Aiguille and Dome du Gouter, the route from 
the Dome striking on variation c of Route I. 

Route III., from the Col du Geant on the east by way 
of the hut at the foot of the Aiguille du Midi (attain- 
able from three directions), and thence by the Mont 
Blanc de Tacul and the Mont Maudit, the route 
from the Corridor striking on variation b of Route I. 
Variation by the couloir between Mont Blanc de 
Tacul and Mont Maudit. 

Route IV., from Courmayeur on the south by the 
Brenva glacier, the route from the Corridor striking 
on variation b of Route I. 

Route V., from Courmayeur on the south by the Miage 
and Dome glaciers, the route from the Dome being 
the same as Route II. and variation c of Route I. 
Variation from the glacier of Miage by way of the 
Italian glacier of Bionnassay to the Dome. Variation 
by way of the Dome glacier slight and unimportant. 

Route VI., from Courmayeur on the south by the 
Miage and Mont Blanc glaciers, striking no previous 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

route except at the outset and the last twenty 
minutes, where it touches variation c of Route I. 
Route VII., from Courmayeur on the south by the 
Brouillard glacier, where, except for the walk up 
the Allee Blanche, no other route is ever touched 
in any part of the journey. Variation from the 
Miage glacier to the Col de Peteret. 

Mr. Louis Kurz, in his most admirable guide to the 
Chain of Mont Blanc, gives eleven routes to the summit, 
but they are practically identical with those already 
described. He treats the routes from Chamonix as three 
separate routes, and not as one route with two variations. 
He treats Mr. E. S. Kennedy's as a separate route, a 
course in which, for the reasons already stated, the 
author is unable to concur, and he claims the Bionnassay 
glacier as a separate route, while the author considers it 
a variation, though an important variation, of that by the 
Dome glacier. 

What is an independent route ? It is impossible to 
dogmatise on such a question ; men may fairly differ in 
opinion upon the subject. It may be suggested, however, 
that any distinct glacier, or any rock or snow arete by 
which the summit of a mountain is approached, con- 
stitutes a route which may be termed independent. But 
if this doctrine is sound, the route by the Bionnassay 
glacier would be independent, and this would constitute 
the eighth route by which Mont Blanc may be ascended ; 
but inasmuch as men must approach the Bionnassay 
glacier by the same route from Courmayeur as the Dome 


New Routes up Mont Blanc 

glacier route, and inasmuch as the moment the Dome 
itself is reached the two routes to the summit from that 
point are identical, it seems reasonable rather to class it 
as a variation of the Dome glacier route than an inde- 
pendent route to Mont Blanc. 

The great mountain has now been thoroughly and 
completely explored. Climbs of the first order have 
been made by able mountaineers, involving, more or 
less, combinations of well-known routes,^ but the only 
novelty the author can suggest is that a way should be 
tried direct from the snow-fields below the Col de la 
Brenva to the summit, entirely on the southern side, 
and thus complete the route made by Mr. Moore and his 
party in 1865, thereby ensuring two ascents from Cour- 
mayeur which would be wholly independent of any 
other routes whatever. 

' Note. — Messrs. Mummery-, Collie, and Hastings repeated in 1894, without 
guides, the Brenva route taken by Mr. Moore and his party, and struck the ridge 
on the left of the Corridor, close to the Petits Mulets. 




FROM the earliest ascent of Alont Blanc in 1786 
down to the year 1820, no life had ever been lost 
upon the great mountain, though many travellers and a 
far greater number of guides had already gained the 

The parties which attacked it were invariably large, 
and the precautions taken to avoid disaster were, in those 
days, always ample, and sometimes excessive. Increasing 
knowledge of the mountain, however, and the well- 
founded belief that its dangers and difficulties had been 
exaggerated, had the inevitable tendency to produce 
indifference. The more men knew of the right means 
by which to avert danger, the less sometimes were the 
precautions taken. In settled weather caravans went 
up and down, without accident and apparently with- 
out risk. Parties became smaller and smaller ; as time 
went on, the constant pressure of the rope was found 
inconvenient and irksome. Travellers began to take the 
view of the great Tartarin ; surely the persistent advice of 
the guides to take this or that precaution was unnecessary, 



surely they were making more of their great mountain 
than it deserved ! The terrible death-roll of Mont Blanc 
tells a different tale. The older mountaineers almost 
boasted that their pursuit had a special immunity from 
danger. Hudson and Kennedy, writing in 1856, call 
attention to the great loss of life on English rivers, such 
as the Thames or Severn, in the hunting-fields of Oxford- 
shire or Leicestershire, in the English woods or on the 
Scottish moors. " But who repeats in tones of sorrow 
the name of friend or relative that has perished amid the 
solitudes of the higher Alps ? The Jungfrau's spotless 
snows, the crested summits of the Wetterhdrner, Monte 
Rosa's craggy peaks, are all guiltless of the traveller's 
blood. These and many other lofty pinnacles of Switzer- 
land have welcomed the adventurous mountaineer, and 
death or severe accident is unknown." The authors of 
this passage give the Hamel catastrophe as the only 
exception to the general rule, but they had not the gift of 
prophecy. The very mountains quoted by them have 
since had their special victims, and there are few of the 
great Alpine peaks that have not been in later years the 
scenes of some disaster. 

Every mountain must be approached with respect, or 
it will punish the reckless and incompetent tyro who 
invades its fastnesses with too light a heart. Many 
years ago Mr. Leslie Stephen, one of the most com- 
petent and one of the most prudent of the old guard, 
gave advice which is too rarely borne in mind. ** The 
modern race of mankind is in too great a hurry. It 
refuses to serve an apprenticeship to anything. It believes 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

that by a little happy audacity and the expenditure of 
enough money it can leap over all preparatory stages. 
Mountaineering, like so many other things, has become 
a fashion with many who don't really care about it, and 
the mountains have taken a terrible revenge." 

There is but slight difficulty or danger in climbing 
Mont Blanc when the weather is settled, and under 
favourable conditions of snow ; but its height is so 
great and its snow-fields are so vast, that when the 
weather is unsettled, or when the snow is soft and 
treacherous, it becomes one of the most dangerous 
mountains in the Alps. 

Accidents have happened from many causes : from a 
lack of knowledge of the effects of cold ; from ignorance 
of the risk of avalanches after fresh snow, or when the 
Fohnwind is blowing ; from inability to understand the 
position of concealed crevasses ; from an improper use of 
the rope — the climber's best friend ; from the incom- 
petence of guides ; from stupidity, carelessness, and 
presumption. It is not too much to say that of all 
the sad fatalities in the history of Mont Blanc few have 
resulted from real accident, or could not have been pre- 
vented by the exercise of reasonable care and foresight. 

Let us enumerate these fatalities in chronological order. 

In the month of August, 1820, Dr. Joseph Hamel, a 
Russian savant and Counsellor of State to the Czar, 
attempted to ascend the mountain from the village of 
Chamonix. He was desirous of making observations 
as to the effect of rarefied air upon animal organisation, 
and he obtained the loan of various scientific instru- 



ments from Professor Pictet and M. de Saussure. He 
was accompanied by M. Selligue, a mechanician of 
Geneva, and by two English gentlemen, Mr. Joseph 
Dornford and Mr. Gilbert Henderson, both of the 
University of Oxford. They took, as they were advised, 
twelve guides, three for each traveller, and set out on the 
eighteenth of August, the whole party reaching the 
Grands Mulcts in the evening. Clouds rose in the west, 
and a heavy thunderstorm broke over their camp. They 
remained where they were the whole of the following 
day, the weather being very uncertain, and two guides 
were despatched to bring up fresh provisions. Early on 
the morning of the twentieth the party started again, 
excepting M. Selligue, who was ill, and who after two 
nights of solitude had come to the conclusion " that a 
married man had a sacred and imperious call to pru- 
dence and caution where his own life seemed at stake ; 
that he had done enough for glory in passing two nights 
in succession perched on a crag like an eagle, and that 
it now became him, like a sensible man, to return to 
Geneva, while return was yet possible." Under these 
circumstances two guides remained to bear him company. 
The remainder of the party, eleven in all, reached the 
Grand Plateau without dilHculty, and Hamel actually 
" wrote two notes to announce his arrival on the summit, 
leaving a blank merely to insert the hour." 

Proceeding by way of the " ancien passage," the only 
route by which the mountain had yet been ascended, 
they climbed most of the distance between the Grand 
Plateau and the Rochers Rouges. Suddenly Hamel felt 

225 g 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

the snow giving way under his feet. He plunged his 
alpenstock into it, but without effect, and was forced 
downwards with irresistible power, the snow engulfed 
him, he expected to be crushed, and could scarcely 
breathe. At first he was under the impression that he 
was the only person affected, but having succeeded after 
a desperate struggle in getting his head above the snow, 
he became aware that the whole party were being borne 
down by a great rush of snow started by their own 
weight, towards a crevasse which yawned beneath them. 
When at length they stopped, he observed Henderson 
close to the abyss. He then saw Dornford and three 
guides, but no others. The avalanche had rolled down 
the "ancien passage," and poured into the huge crevasse 
at its foot, filling it to the brim. The party had been 
carried down twelve hundred feet. A terrible panic set 
in. The guides lost all self-control. Some walked about 
aimlessly, uttering loud cries. Matthieu Balmat sat in 
sullen silence, rejecting all kind offices with an irritation 
which made it painful to approach him. Dornford threw 
himself on the snow in despair, and Henderson, says 
Hamel, "was in a condition which made one fear for the 
consequences." A few minutes later two other guides 
extricated themselves, but the remaining three were seen 
no more. Hamel and Henderson descended into the 
crevasse and made every possible attempt to find the lost 
guides, but without avail ; the surviving guides forced 
them to come out, and sore at heart they returned to 

• " Bibliolhtque UniveiseUe," Geneve, August, 1820. 


The three guides who were lost were Pierre Carrier, 
Pierre Bahnat, and Auguste Tairraz. They were the 
three foremost in the Hne and felt the first effects of the 
avalanche. Matthieu Balmat, who was fourth in the 
line, saved himself by his great personal strength and 
by presence of mind. Julien Devouassoud was hurled 
across the crevasse, and Joseph Marie Couttet was 
dragged out senseless by his companions, " nearly black 
from the weight of snow which had fallen upon him." 

Such was the well-known " Hamel catastrophe." ^ It is 
easy to be wise after the event, but with our present 
knowledge it would not have occurred. It does not 
appear that any of the party were roped at the time 
of the disaster. Dornford tells us that the party were 
roped in threes between the Grands Mulcts and the 
Grand Plateau, but he adds, with reference to the 
accident, " All such plans as that of fastening themselves 
together with a rope would be utterly useless, besides the 
insupportable fatigue which this method of proceeding 
would occasion." It is certain that though fine on the 
morning of the attempted ascent, the weather was very 
doubtful, and the wind was south. In other words, 
the weather was avalanche weather, in which the excur- 
sion should not have been attempted, and it is quite 

' Note. — Dr. Paccai-d's diary coatains comments ou this accident. He again 
states that Julien Devouassoud was his son-in-law — (he married Josephine, the 
Doctor's only daughter)— that when Devouassoud got out of the crevasse he found 
the " son of Marie Couttet imbedded up to his neck in the snow, and released him 
and he adds that Couttet blamed Dr. Hamel, affirming that he was the cause of 
the disaster, as he had insisted on making the ascent although the weather was 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

probable that if the rope had been used the three 
guides might have been saved. ^ 

Many years after the accident speculation became rife 
as to the probability of the remains of Hamel's guides 
being ultimately discovered. Scientific men had paid 
great attention to the subject of glacier motion, and James 
David Forbes had proved by his experiments on the 
Mer de Glace that the rate of motion of that glacier was 
roughly two feet each day.^ Hamel, who did not know 
much of the subject, suggested that the remains might be 
found in a thousand years ; but Forbes, from the know- 
ledge then acquired of the rate of the motion of the 
Glacier des Bossons, confidently predicted their discovery 
after a lapse of about forty years. As usual Forbes was 
right. From the crevasse at the foot of the Rochers 
Rouges to the base of the Glacier des Bossons is a 
distance of about six miles, and there on the fifteenth of 
August, 1861, Forbes' bold prediction was verified, and 
the ice gave up its dead. On that day, Ambroise Simond, 
a Chamonix guide, discovered near the lower end of the 
Glacier des Bossons portions of clothing and some 
human remains. In the middle of June, 1863, Mr. H.J. 
Rouse, strolling near the same spot, found a large piece 
of a human body protruding from the ice. He tried to 
dig it out, but having no proper tools and much rain 
falling, abandoned further search for that time. A few 
days later a more careful inspection of the glacier 

• Hamel's account appears in The New Monthly Magazine, 1821. 

* Note. — Much depends upon the steepness of the bed down which the glacier 



was made, and various relics were discovered. In the 
month of August, part of an alpenstock, a crumpled 
book, the iron frame of a lantern, and fragments of 
a human skull were found by Mr. Browning and 
Mr. Blanford. Further relics were found as late as 
1865. The head of one of the unfortunate victims was 
actually identified after an entombment of forty-three 
years. Among other discoveries was that of a human 
hand which had grasped an alpenstock with such force 
that part of the wood was found adhering to the palm ; 
shoes, gloves, and ropes ; a hat which belonged to Pierre 
Carrier, a cooked leg of mutton, and the compass and 
hygrometer of Dr. Hamel, which were carried by the 
leading guides. Even the wing of a pigeon was dis- 
covered, part of the bird which Pierre Carrier took up 
with him in an old kettle. The head and the hand were 
those of Pierre Balmat, and both were identified by 
Joseph Marie Couttet, who, as above mentioned, barely 
escaped destruction. 

We have only to deal with fatalities which actually 
occurred on Mont Blanc, but as any route by which the 
mountain is immediately ascended is necessarily part of 
it, the accident on the Col du Geant, which comes next 
in order, must be recorded. It occurred on the fifteenth 
of August, i860, forty years after the Hamel disaster. 
Three English gentlemen, j\Ir. J. M. Rochester, Mr. F. 
Vavassour, and Mr. B. Fuller, were crossing the Col du 
Geant from Chamonix to Courmayeur. They were 
accompanied by Frederic Tain"az and two other guides 
of Chamonix. They did not reach the summit of the 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Col till late in the afternoon, and were much fatigued by 
the climb. Instead of descending by the rocks they 
went down a slope of soft snow. The proper use of the 
rope was now well known, but the usual precautions 
were contemptuously disregarded. The three English- 
men were tied together, but the first and last guides 
simply held the ends of the rope in their hands, while 
Tairraz, the chief guide, contented himself by holding 
on to it as he walked by the side of the party. A slip 
occurred. The rope was of course at once jerked out of 
the incompetent hands which held it. The first and last 
guides saved themselves, while the Englishmen went at 
once to destruction. There is little doubt that Tairraz 
could have saved himself without difficulty, for he was 
free and had a good ice-axe, but as leading guide he was 
responsible for the disaster, and declining to survive it, 
went down with the Englishmen. This was the kind of 
accident for which there is no possible excuse. The 
slope is easy, and although there are rocks which form 
the usual route, the guides foolishly took to the snow to 
reduce the fatigue of their already exhausted employers. 
Even then, if they had been properly roped, and had 
made good use of their ice-axes at the moment the slip 
occurred, the catastrophe might easily have been averted. 
On the ninth of August, 1864, another life was lost 
upon the mountain. Two Austrians were descending 
Mont Blanc, and had reached the Grand Plateau. One 
of their porters, Ambroise Couttet, preceded them unroped. 
He fell into a crevasse before the eyes of his companions. 
The crevasse was excessively deep, the cold was intense, 



and the guides, convinced that Couttet was dead, went on 
to Chamonix. The same evening a party of guides went 
up in the hope of recovering the body. Michel Payot 
and Simon Pierre Benoit were lowered into the crevasse 
to a depth of ninety feet, but they did not reach the body 
and the search was abandoned. The accident was of 
course attributable to the gross neglect of the most 
obvious of all precautions. 

In the year 1866, Sir George Young, accompanied by 
his two brothers, climbed Mont Blanc without guides. 
They ascended by the Bosses route, and returning, reached 
the head of the "ancien passage." Here they looked for 
tracks, but could find none, so they made for the usual 
line of descent, by the Mur de la Cote. In doing this one 
of the party slipped, and dragged the others down with 
him. The slope suddenly becoming steeper they bounded 
into the air, and fell some fifteen or twenty feet. Two of 
the party were absolutely uninjured, but Mr. Bulkeley 
Young had unhappily fallen upon his head and broken 
his neck. The accident occurred on the twenty-third of 
August. In this case it is unnecessary to impute blame 
to any one, but it is desirable to assert that if experienced 
guides had been of the party, it is more than probable 
that no disaster would have occurred. 

In the same year, on the thirteenth of October, another 
catastrophe happened almost identical in character with 
that which overtook the party of Dr. Hamel. Captain 
Arkwright was climbing ]\Iont Blanc by the " ancien 
passage." His leading guide was Michel Simond. He 
had two others, Francois an.d Joseph Tournier, and two 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

volunteers, Sylvain Couttet and a servant from one of the 
Chamonix hotels. The two latter were roped together, 
Arkwright's party were on a separate rope. Suddenly an 
avalanche fell from above. Couttet with a great effort 
dragged the servant out of the track. The avalanche fell 
upon Captain Arkwright and his three guides, who were 
at once overwhelmed. The only difference between 
Hamel's accident and this, was that in the former case the 
snow slipped with the party, and in the latter the avalanche 
fell upon them. There is little doubt that the "ancien 
passage" was in bad condition, and the guides ought to 
have known it and avoided it accordingly. Sylvain Couttet, 
though on this occasion a volunteer, was an excellent 
guide, and had presence of mind enough to save himself 
and his companion. Captain Arkwright took what guides 
he could get, probably those who were on the rota for the 
day. At Chamonix, unhappily, such folk are seldom to be 
depended upon when real emergencies arise. This catas- 
trophe resembles that of Dr. Hamel's in another respect. 
The bodies of the guides who perished with Arkwright 
were recovered soon after the accident, but that of 
Arkwright himself was buried too deep)}'' to be found. 
On the twenty-second of August, 1897, his remains were 
discovered on the left bank of the Glacier des Bossons, 
and were reverently interred at Chamonix after an interval 
of thirty-one years. Here was another illustration of how 
even the most fragile articles can bear ice pressure for so 
long a time. " A pocket-handkerchief was intact, the 
coloured border scarcely faded, and the marking, in ink, 
quite perfect. The shirt had been torn to pieces, but two 



of the studs and the collar-stud were found intact in the 
buttonholes. There was a gold pencil-case which would 
still open and shut, with lead which would still mark. 
Most remarkable of all was the watch-chain, made of 
solid gold links, perfectly plain ; not a scratch was visible, 
and the gold was as clean as if it had just been rubbed up 
for wear." ^ 

In the year 1870, on the second of August, Mr. and 
Mrs. Marke, accompanied by Miss Wilkinson, two guides 
and a porter, reached the top of the Corridor on their way 
up Mont Blanc. The ladies were greatly fatigued and 
were left on the Corridor with the porter, Olivier Gay, 
while Mr. Marke continued the ascent with the two 
guides. When climbing the Mur de la Cote he heard 
loud cries, and at once returned to the Corridor. He 
found Miss Wilkinson alone ; Mrs. Marke and the porter 
had disappeared. It was very cold and the ladies desired 
to walk about. Of course they had no rope, and Mrs. 
Marke and Gay walked straight into a crevasse and were 
immediately killed. This is another unhappy instance of 
the culpable neglect of the most ordinary precaution. 

In the same year, on the sixth of September, occurred 
the most lamentable catastrophe ever known in the annals 
of Alpine adventure. The weather was uncertain and 
dangerous, and two competent English mountaineers who 
had just had a very narrow escape on the mountain had 
come down to Chamonix. There they found a Mr. 
Randall, "an intense mountain enthusiast," who was 
rather stimulated than deterred by their account of the 

' "The Alpine Journal," vol. x%'iii., p. 561. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

difficulties they had experienced. Mr. Randall was joined 
by Mr. J. Bean and the Rev. G. McCorkindale. All three 
were without training and without experience, but they 
determined to climb the mountain together. They en- 
gaged eight guides and porters, and those probably about 
the worst who were then on the Chamonix roll. The 
party reached the Grands Mulcts on the evening of the 
fifth, and started again on the following morning, leaving 
their only compass behind them. The ascent was made 
by way of the Corridor and the Mur de la Cote. The 
moment they reached the summit a furious storm burst 
upon them. What actually happened no man can tell, 
for not one of the eleven ever returned. The only 
evidence we have of the disaster is a written statement 
made by Mr. Bean when he was almost in extremis ; 
but reasonable conjectures can be made from the position 
in which some of the bodies were afterwards discovered. 
The weather was very bad for the twelve following days, 
and search parties, although organised, were unable to 
proceed. On the seventeenth, however, a little higher 
than the Mur de la Cote, McCorkindale and two porters 
were found lying together unroped. Higher up Mr. Bean 
and one porter were found with all the baggage of the 
party. The bodies of Mr. Randall and of the other guides 
and porters were never discovered, though they were 
searched for during three days by the best of the 
Chamonix guides. On the body of Mr. Bean the 
following diary was found : — 

"Tuesday, September 6th. I have made the ascent of 



Mont Blanc with ten persons — eight guides, Mr. McCork- 
indale and Mr. Randall. We arrived on the summit at 
half-past two o'clock. Immediately after leaving it, I was 
enveloped in clouds of snow. We passed the night in a 
grotto excavated out of the snow, affording very uncom- 
fortable shelter, and I was ill all night. September yth — 
morning. Intense cold — much snow, which falls unin- 
terruptedly. Guides restless. September 7th — evening. 
We have been on Mont Blanc for two days in a terrible 
snowstorm ; we have lost our way and are in a hole 
scooped out of the snow at a height of 15,000 feet. I have 
no hope of descending. Perhaps this book may be found 
and forwarded. We have no food. My feet are already 
frozen and I am exhausted. I have only strength to write 
a few words. I die in the faith of Jesus Christ, with 
affectionate thoughts of my family — my remembrances to 
all. I trust we may meet in heaven." 

The stor}' is pitiful in the extreme ; but what can be 
expected, when the opponents of the fierce forces of 
nature, are incompetent adventurers and untrustworthy 
guides ? ^ Oh for an Aimer or an Anderegg in 
such an emergency ! One single capable man 
would have forbidden the expedition or averted the 

On the fourteenth of September, 1873, Professor 
Fedchenko, a Russian savant, known by his mountain 
travels in Siberia, lost his life at the foot of the seracs 
of the Geant glacier. He had desired to ascend the Col 

» " The Alpine Journal," vol. v. p. 193. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

du Geant only, and to return to Chamonix the same day. 
His arrangements were badly made. He did not leave 
the Montanvert till eight in the morning, and consequently 
did not arrive at " La Vierge " (about an hour from the 
summit) till the heat of the afternoon. He had with him 
Joseph and Prosper Payot. A storm burst upon them 
with great violence. Wet to the skin and half frozen by 
the bitter wind, they retraced their steps. They recrossed 
the seracs, but Fedchenko, who was very lightly clad, was 
quite exhausted, and the two Payots had to carry him. 
They reached the moraine of " La Noire " at nine in the 
evening, when Joseph Payot, an incompetent guide, 
became nearly as much exhausted as his employer. The 
night was dark. The storm continued and they re- 
mained huddled together till two the following morning. 
Prosper Payot, who behaved well, kept his brother and 
Fedchenko moving. At last the traveller fell into a 
lethargy. Prosper had to shake and kick his brother 
to prevent him also from falling asleep, and then came 
to the conclusion that as his employer was "as good 
as dead," he had better try to save his brother and 
himself. They left Fedchenko on the rocks, and reached 
the Montanvert about five in the morning in a very 
exhausted and pitiable condition. This accident was 
the result of the Chamonix system, by which a guide is 
paid according to the distance he goes. To the seracs 
of the Geant, their fee would have been ten francs each ; 
to the summit of the Col, forty francs. They pushed on 
for the sake of extra pay, in defiance of ordinary prudence, 
and lost their nerve when they encountered real danger. 



To have left their employer alone on the moraine whilst 
still alive was an outrageous proceeding ; and it is manifest 
that if Prosper Payot could rescue his brother by starting 
from the moraine at two in the morning, the Professor 
could have been saved if both brothers had insisted on 
his descending, instead of halting on the moraine at nine 
on the previous evening. 

On the thirtieth of August, 1874, Mr. J. A. G. Marshall, 
of Leeds, left Courmayeur with the intention of climbing 
Mont Blanc by the Brouillard glacier. His guides were 
well-known men, Johann Fischer of Meyringen, and 
Ulrich Aimer of Grindelwald. They camped out on the 
mountain, but the following day were unsuccessful. They 
turned back too late, and found themselves at nightfall on 
the ridge at the head of the Brouillard and Fresnay 
glaciers. Here they ought to have passed the night, but 
being anxious to reach their bivouac they waited for the 
moon to rise and then proceeded slowly downwards. 
One asked the hour, and was told that it was midnight. 
Fischer was leading, when suddenly the snow gave way 
under them, and all three fell into a crevasse. Mr. Mar- 
shall's skull was fractured, and he was instantly killed, and 
Fischer was so seriously injured that he did not long 
survive. Aimer was not much hurt, and when day- 
light came he crept out of the crevasse and walked 
down to Courmayeur. Mr. Marshall was an excel- 
lent climber, and his guides first rate, but they 
would have done better to halt, whatever the incon- 
venience, when daylight disappeared. The most com- 
petent men are helpless when sti-uggling with the 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

difficulties of an unknown glacier in the middle of 
the night. ^ 

On the nineteenth of Jul}^, 1882, two men were killed 
on one of the buttresses on the south side of Mont Blanc 
— the Aiguille Blanche de Peteret. One was the well- 
known guide, Johann Petrus, the other was Francis 
Maitland Balfour. Mr. Balfour had won great distinc- 
tion at Harrow and at Cambridge, was a Fellow of the 
Royal Society, had a splendid scientific reputation, and a 
personal charm of manner which endeared him to count- 
less friends. This Aiguille was then unclimbed, and its 
conquest was naturally a great object of ambition. The 
well-known Emile Rey, who afterwards perished on the 
Aiguille du Geant, was invited by Mr. Balfour to 
accompany him, but declined, as he considered the 
snow to be in a dangerous condition. Mr. Balfour 
did not agree with him, and started, accompanied only 
by Petrus. They did not return. A search party was 
organised, and some da^'^s later their bodies were found 
on the rocks between the glaciers of Brouillard and 
Fresnay at the foot of a steep arete. They had not 
succeeded in climbing the mountain. The accident 
happened from a slip on rocks, but how the slip 
occurred no one will never know. A peak like the 
Aiguille Blanche demanded an exceptionally strong 
party, personal fitness, and favourable conditions of 
snow. Mr. Balfour was an admirable mountaineer, 
but was not in robust health, the snow was not in 

" The Alpine Journal,' vol. vii. p. no 


good condition, and only two persons formed the 
party for the ascent of an unknown mountain. 

On the first of August, 1885, two Italian gentlemen, 
without guides, attempted the Col du Geant from 
Courmayeur. One was Signor Mario Rev. A little 
below the top of the pass Signor Rey seized a 
boulder, which he displaced, and which in its fall 
carried him down about fiv^e hundred feet. His body 
was covered by a great mass of stones, and was 
extricated with considerable difBculty. The traveller 
was seventeen years of age, and only two persons 
were of the party. 

On the twelfth of August, 1890, one Gratien Brunod, 
a Courmayeur guide, was on the top of the Col du 
Geant with two Italian climbers. Attempting to get 
some water in the neighbourhood of the hut, he lost 
his footing, fell down a thousand feet, and was imme- 
diately killed. 

A few days later in the same year another melancholy 
accident occurred. On the eighteenth of August the 
Count di Villanova, accompanied by Jean Joseph 
Maquignaz and Antonio Castagneri (two of the ablest 
guides in the Alps) and two porters, set out from the 
Cantine de la Visaille to ascend Mont Blanc by way 
of the Dome glacier. The day was fine, but there was 
a Fohnwind, and from the summit of the Grandes 
Jorasses, then quite clear, another mountaineer watched 
an ominous cloud settling over Mont Blanc. He 
expressed to his guides the earnest hope that no one 
might be sleeping out for the great mountain. It is 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

by no means unusual for storms to assail Mont Blanc 
when all other peaks in the chain are clear. That night 
Villanova and his party slept near the Dome glacier, 
and tried the ascent on the following day. Neither he 
nor any member of his party has ever been heard of 
since. Bad weather lasted for several days, but the 
utmost efforts were made to discover the bodies. 
Traces were followed up the Dome glacier to the 
ridge connecting the Aiguille de Bionnassay with the 
Dome du Gouter, but no further. Probably the party 
were blown off the ridge, and five men perished un- 
timely, whose bodies may some day be discovered on 
the French Bionnassay glacier. 

On August the twentieth, 1891, Herr Rothe, the 
Count de Favernay, three guides, and two porters slept 
in the Vallot hut at the foot of the Bosses du Droma- 
daire. The weather made the ascent impossible, and 
on the afternoon of the twenty-first, the bad weather 
continuing, they started for the downward journey. 
Four workmen who had been engaged on the Obser- 
vatory descended with them, and the whole eleven 
were attached to one rope. While crossing the Petit 
Plateau, they were struck by an avalanche of excep- 
tional volume, which fell from the snow cliffs of the 
Dome and swept across the Plateau, forcing five men 
into a crevasse. Three were extricated, but Rothe and 
his guide Michel Simond were killed. The party should 
have been on three ropes and have kept carefully away 
from the Dome side of the glacier. Bad weather, and 
probably bad guiding, were the causes of this disaster. 



On the twenty-fifth of August, 1892, Mr. Richard 
Lewis Nettleship, a distinguished Fellow and Tutor of 
Balliol College, Oxford, lost his life on the mountain. 
He started from the Col de Voza early on the twenty- 
fourth, and reached the Aiguille du Gouter at one in 
the afternoon. The morning was fine, but there were 
indications of a change, and heavy clouds were rolling 
up from .the south when the Aiguille was attained. 
His guides were Alfred Comte and Gaspard Simond, 
Chamonix men of poor repute. Instead of instantly 
retreating, they hoped they might be able to reach the 
Vallot hut, two or three hours distant ; but within an 
hour from the Aiguille the storm burst and the party 
were enveloped in a " tourmente." They lost their 
way, and after wandering about for some hours vainly 
endeavouring to regain it, they dug a hole in the snow 
and passed the night there. Mr. Nettleship was in good 
spirits, though the storm continued the whole of the 
night. On the morning of the twenty-fifth it was still 
snowing hard, and the guides pressed Mr. Nettleship to 
stay where he was, but he refused, saying it was idle 
to remain there and die like cowards, and that they 
must make an effort to get away. He started, the 
guides following him. After walking a little way he 
became unsteady and stumbled, then cried out and fell 
forward, and bidding them goodbye, expired. The 
guides, on the weather clearing a little, made for the 
Vallot hut, and the next day descended to Chamonix, 
and the body was afterwards discovered and brought 

241 R 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

On the twenty-seventh of August, 1893, Signer Poggi 
was killed by a falling stone on the Aiguille Noire de 
Peteret, on the south side of the mountain. Many 
men have been injured from the same cause, but this 
is the only instance, says Mr. Whymper, where a 
mountain climber in the Alps has been thus killed 
outright. Probably it was a real accident and un- 

In the following month an Italian artist, Signor 
Cumani, attempted to ascend Mont Blanc by the 
Brenva glacier alone. He has never been heard of 

On the eighteenth of August, 1895, three more lives 
were lost. On that day Mr. Eccles found an ice-axe 
lying on the snow just below the Petit Plateau. 
Thinking it belonged to one of the numerous porters 
on the mountain, he stuck it upright and proceeded on 
his journey. On his return he found the axe still un- 
claimed. On the twenty-fifth, inquiries were made by 
telegraph from Courmayeur with regard to two guides, 
who had not been heard of for several days. It appears 
that Dr. Robert Schniirdreher, an advocate of Prague, 
had crossed the Col du Geant with two guides of 
Courmayeur, Michel Savoix and Laurent Brun. The 
party afterwards ascended Mont Blanc. As they did 
not return, Mr. Eccles suggested that the glacier should 
be examined in the neighbourhood of the unclaimed 
ice-axe. The gallant Michel Payot headed a search 
party, and in a crevasse below the ice-axe, the three 
bodies were found entombed. The ascent of the 



mountain had been made in one day, and the party 
on their return slept in the Vallot hut. Now in 
descending Mont Blanc in the middle of the day, 
men often make a series of glissades nearly all the 
way from the Grand Plateau to the Grands Mulets. 
The snow is soft, and to glissade is therefore safe and 
easy. Schniirdreher and his guides forgot that in the 
early morning, when they began to descend, the snow 
is hard, and glissading consequently dangerous. They 
must unfortunately have tried this method of progress, 
lost all control of their course, and fallen headlong 
into a crevasse. Wanton carelessness was the cause of 
the disaster. 

An American gentleman of the name of Reigel, who 
had previously climbed Mont Blanc alone from the 
Chamonix side, attempted the same feat from Courma- 
yeur. He lost his life on the Dome glacier on the 
fourteenth of July, 1898. 

It will thus be seen that the death-roll of Mont Blanc 
contains the names of forty-seven persons. It is im- 
possible to ponder on this sad record without humilia- 
tion and even anger, at a loss of life to so large an 
extent avoidable. The rules to be followed and pre- 
cautions to be adopted are now so well known that to 
break them is the worst of all offences, for it is a sin 
against light and knowledge. 

Men who love the mountains for their own sake, for 
the lessons they can teach and the happiness they can 
bring, must insist, in season and out of season, upon the 
observance of those rules of prudence and good sense, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

without which mountaineering will inevitably be dis- 
credited in all impartial eyes. Excellent advice has been 
given almost ad nauseam, but it is not always followed, 
or even taken in good part. In this respect the younger 
guides are many of them the greatest sinners. To all 
climbers or guides we would say — Never cross a glacier 
without a rope properly used. Never climb alone, or 
with a single companion, above the snow-line. Treat 
every great mountain with the respect it deserves. Learn 
the art of mountaineering with trained companions before 
you attempt to practise it. Steadily avoid all places where 
stones or avalanches are likely to fall. Never climb in 
bad weather. Turn back resolutely before wind or storm. 
Avoid the casual guide. Ensure as far as may be personal 
fitness. Do nothing that can discredit the manliest of all 
pursuits, or bring down the ridicule of the undiscerning 
upon the noblest pastime in the world. 

Accidents occasioned by the mistakes, the imprudence, 
or the folly of men are not the only ones that occur in 
the Alps. Tremendous catastrophes sometimes happen 
from the operation of the irresistible forces of nature. 
Every one has read of the great landslip at Goldau which 
took place in the first decade of the present century. 
Most people have heard of the bursting of the great lake 
at Mauvoisin in the Val de Bagnes, in the month of May, 
1818, which caused great loss of life, and carried desola- 
tion as far as the old town of Martigny. Few have 
forgotten the great landslip in Canton Glarus which 
destroyed half a village, or the terrible fall of ice from 
the Altels in September, 1895, which killed six persons 



and one hundred and fifty cattle, and laid waste the 
beautiful pastures of Spitalmatten. Such accidents are 
constantly occurring on a smaller scale, but the total 
destruction of the Baths of St. Gervais in 1892 by an 
avalanche of water, mud, and stones, which fell from the 
western side of Mont Blanc, and the great loss of life that 
ensued, forms one of the most tragic chapters in mountain 

The traveller from Geneva still stops for a few minutes 
at the little village of Le Fayet while the diligences are 
got ready for Chamonix. A hundred yards from the 
railway station he sees on his right a quaint wooden 
building which forms the entrance to the well-known 
Baths of St. Gervais. Beyond the iron gates, a hand- 
some drive, beautifully wooded, leads through a lovely 
garden to the establishment, which now stands in a 
delightful and shady spot at the mouth of a gorge 
through which runs the river of the Bon Nant. The 
Bon Nant is often swollen by floods, but so secure did 
the architects of the establishment feel, that part of their 
building was erected close to the riverside, while another 
portion was actually constructed partly over the river 
bed. The river, rising near the Col du Bonhomme, 
receives the greater part of the drainage which flows 
from the south-western flanks of the Mont Blanc chain, 
including that of the glaciers of Miage and Trelatete. 
At Bionay it receives a tributary which falls steeply 
from the Glacier de Bionnassay. This glacier flows 
from a mighty snow amphitheatre, above which soars 
the Aiguille of that name, together with the summits of 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

the Aiguille and Dome du Gouter. North of the Bion- 
nassay glacier is a smaller one called the glacier of Tete 
Rousse, well known to climbers of Mont Blanc" from 
its western side. Adjoining, and a little below the 
Tete Rousse, is a stony tract known as the Desert de 
Pierre Ronde, and well worthy of its name. 

Owing to the stoppage of the sub-glacial drainage, in 
some manner never precisely ascertained, a lake was 
formed under the Tete Rousse glacier, in which an 
enormous body of water was pent up at a spot ten 
thousand feet above the sea-level. Between one and 
two o'clock on the night of the twelfth of July, 1892, 
the ice that held up the lake gave way. The water 
swept in a torrent of tremendous force over the Desert 
de Pierre Ronde, gathering up thousands of tons of 
rock and stones in its course. It passed with a terrific 
roar under the hamlet of Bionnassay, which it did 
not injure, destroyed half the village of Bionay on the 
high-road between Contamines and St. Gervais, and 
tearing up trees by the roots as it went along, joined the 
main river of the Bon Nant ; following its bed and 
destroying on its way the old Pont du Diable, it hurled 
its seething flood of water, timber, stones, and mud upon 
the solid buildings of the establishment and crushed them 
into fragments ; then crossing the Chamonix road, it 
spread itself out in the form of a hideous fan over the 
valley of the Arve, destroying part of the village of Le 
Fayet on its way. 

Such was the catastrophe of St. Gervais, which claimed 
more than a hundred and fifty victims, and which shows 


.1,' j^.' 1.V.1 , y V"' id' 



how little nature recks of human life. The calamity 
could not have been predicted or averted. A few weeks 
later I climbed to the glacier of Tete Rousse and was let 
down into the then empty lake ; then following the track 
of the avalanche, I walked along its whole course to the 
site of the Baths, and on to Le Fayet. Utter ruin was 
everywhere. The once lovely gardens were five or six 
feet deep in mud, fine trees had been snapped like reeds, 
and enormous blocks of stone were strewn over the 
dreary waste. I visited St. Gervais again in 1897. Man 
and nature had resumed their work. The Baths had 
been rebuilt in a safer spot; trees were springing from 
the soil ; lichen, moss, and the wild strawberry were 
growing upon the very stones w^hich had caused such 
piteous devastation, and the gardens were again smiling 
and beautiful. " Nature repairs her ravages, but not 
all. The uptorn trees are not rooted again ; the parted 
hills are left scarred." 




WHEN Chamonix was first visited there were 
apparently plenty of men who were competent to 
conduct a traveller to the Mer de Glace, and to the other 
glaciers which descended into the valley. "We took 
with us," says Windham, " several peasants — some to be 
our guides, and others to carry wine and provisions." 
Chamois-hunting and crystal-finding, then as later, gave 
their votaries greater opportunities than their neighbours 
enjoyed for acquiring an adequate knowledge of snow and 
glacier, so that such men were the best qualified to act 
as guides to adventurous travellers when their services 
should be required. None of them, however, were 
trained guides as we now understand the term ; the time 
for such a profession had not yet arrived. Jacques 
Balmat, Jean Michel Cachat, Marie Couttet, and others 
who accompanied Saussure and his successors in the 
earlier ascents of the mountain, must have been brave and 
competent men, but no one can judge of the real capacity 
of a guide with whom he has not worked, and in modern 
days the standard of excellence is far higher than was 
ever dreamt of in bygone times. 


The Chamonix Guides 

At the close of the last century and during the early 
years of the present one, visitors to the Valley of 
Chamonix were few and far between. After the peace 
of 1815 they were more frequent, some few desiring to 
ascend the great mountain, the majority only to explore 
the glaciers to which Windham and Martel had called 
attention. It then became customary for some of the 
Chamonix peasants, who were well acquainted with the 
mountains and who were willing to officiate as guides, to 
carry a small book about with them, in which travellers 
who engaged them entered their names, and sometimes 
gave certificates of the character and the ability of the 
persons they employed. 

" Livret de service " was the name given to such books 
by French-speaking people. " Fiihrerbuch " was the 
name used by the German-speaking Swiss when a 
generation later they also became guides. The early 
Chamonix " livrets " are of great interest as furnishing a 
record of visitors to the valley and of the excursions 
made, but very few of the latter were of any mountaineering 
importance. The Mer de Glace, the Glacier des Bossons, 
the Brevent and the Flegere, m rare cases the Jardin, 
were for the most part the limits of aspiration. 

Jean Michel Balmat was a well-known guide in the 
beginning of the present century. His livret bears the 
date of 1 8 14, and the last entry in it was made on the 
seventeenth of September, 1824. 

A few extracts will suffice : — 

" Mr. Glover, landscape painter, from London, has 
pleasure in recommending Jean Michel Balmat as an 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

excellent guide and he believes a worthy man, Sept. 
25th, 1814." X 

" Jean Michel Balmat attended us to see the Mer de 
Glace from Montanvert, and we were very well satisfied 
with his abilities and attention. — F. Barclay and A. 
Barclay, October nth, 1814." 

" Major Fausette and Major Cockburn, R.A., were 
attended by Jean Michel Balmat to the Mer de Glace and 
other glaciers, and to Martigny and Mont St. Bernard, 
and they can with truth say that he was a most excellent 
guide, very civil and attentive, and that his mules were 
uncommonly good and steady. July 20th, 1816." 

" The bearer, Jean Michel Balmat, conducted Mr. P. 
Garland and Mr. Frederick Thruston to the Jardin h'om 
Chamonix in about eleven hours, Oct. 7, 18 16, and they 
have every reason to be satisfied with his services and to 
think him a very careful and good guide." 

" Jean Michel Balmat attended Mrs. Hill and her 
daughter and a large party on several excursions in the 
neighbourhood of Chamonix, particularly up La Mon- 
tanvert and the Croix de Flegere, a still more arduous 
ascent ; and found him a most intelligent man, attentive 
and very active. She is desirous of recommending him 
to the attention of those who are not very courageous, 
finding his manners all that is encouraging, and a 
steadiness which is indispensable in such arduous excur- 

' Glover was an artist of considerable repute, and painted both in oil and water 
colours. Amongst his landscapes were pictures of Helvellyn and Ullswater. He 
died in 1849. It would be interesting if any of his Alpine works could be 


The Chamonix Guides 

sions — another recommendation is the neatness of his 
person. Sept. nth, 1819." 

Here and there a more important expedition was 
recorded, in which Balmat '"gave equal satisfaction, for 
Count Matzewski writes on the fifth of August, 1818 : — 

" Jean Michel Balmat a ete avec moi a 1' Aiguille du 
Midi et au Mont Blanc. Je le recommande comme un 
guide tres bon, fort, et attentif." 

Thus in the early days guides became known by the 
records of past services, and travellers were free to choose 
the men who seemed to have the highest qualifications. 
Unfortunately this free-trade metliod soon came to an 

In the month of May, 1823, the organisation of the 
guides of Chamonix was undertaken by the Sardinian 
Government. They were formed into a Corporation by 
Royal Order, and a definite tariff for certain excursions 
was imposed. Further laws were promulgated in 1846 
by Royal manifesto, the preamble of which was as 
follows: — 

"The increasing number of travellers who come to 
visit the Valley of Chamonix has shown the need of 
further regulating the service of guides established by our 
manifesto of the month of May, 1823, and of modifica- 
tions for securing the safety of travellers and for 
rendering their excursions easy and agreeable." 

Additional rules were laid down in May, 1852. In the 
year 1846 the number of guides had been limited to 
sixty, but this limitation was now abolished. Every 
peasant domiciled at Chamonix was eligible to be placed 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

on the Guide-roll if he had the necessary qualifications, 
which were defined as " personal probity, combined with 
physical and intellectual aptitude." These qualifications 
were to be tested by examination. No traveller was 
bound to take a guide even for the most dangerous 
excursion ; but the days of climbing without guides had 
not begun, and the traveller was really forced to submit 
to the usual rules. When Savoy was ceded to France, 
the French Government continued to uphold the Society 
of guides on the existing lines. Theoretically the object 
of the guide system as established by the Sardinian 
Government and approved and amended by the Govern- 
ment of France, was to ensure the safetv of travellers and 
to make their excursions " easy and agreeable." For 
this purpose security was to be taken for the competence 
of the guides. Let us see how it worked out. The 
examination was a mere farce, the rota was rigidly 
adhered to, and the traveller was also obliged to take as 
many guides as the Bureau in its wisdom might consider 
necessary for any particular expedition. Thus a trades' 
union of the worst form was established, and was 
perpetuated for many years. It seemed advantageous to 
the short-sighted natives, for it ensured the regular and 
systematic employment of most of the adult inhabitants ; 
but it was really ruinous. It was hateful to moun- 
taineers, who, wanting competent guides for some im- 
portant excursion, had to take the first men on the roll, 
good or bad. Hence they either avoided Chamonix, or 
brought foreign guides with them into the valley. It 
tended to lower the quality of the guides themselves, the 


The Chamonix Guides 

worst of whom might be cast for Mont Blanc, which 
possibly they had never climbed ; whilst the best might 
have the bad luck to find no better employment than to 
accompany a mule to the Montanvert, or to carry a lady's 
shawl to the Brevent or the Flegere. 

No encouragement was given to special capacity. 
Why should a man cultivate the manners or practise the 
arts by which alone a guide really becomes great, if he 
was to be no better off than the most incompetent man 
upon the roll ? The tendency of the system was to 
produce a dead level of mediocrity. The result might 
easily have been foreseen. The names of the old guides 
who worked unfettered at the time of Saussure's ascent, 
and for thirty years afterwards, stand out in the history 
of Chamonix like peaks above the clouds. Their 
successors have sadly degenerated. It is a melancholy 
fact that of the three hundred men now on the Chamonix 
roll, those who could be relied upon in a grave emergency 
may be counted almost upon the fingers of one hand. 
Of course no regulations, however absurd, can altogether 
prevent real genius from being discovered. Auguste 
Balmat, Michel Croz, and Auguste Simond, among the 
dead, were men of exceptional ability, but would have 
taken a far higher position if they had possessed the 
freedom of their brethren of Meyringen and Grindelwald. 
Frangois Devouassoud, now retired, possesses all the 
qualities of a great guide, and was selected by Mr. 
Douglas Freshfield to accompany him in two journeys to 
the Caucasus, where he led in the first ascents of Kasbek, 
Elbruz, and Tetnuld. No man more chafed under the 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

restrictions imposed by the Chamonix system, from 
which he wholly separated himself more than twenty 
years ago. The effect of this estrangement on 
Devouassoud's career was noteworthy. While there is 
hardly a group in the Alps, from the Col de Tenda to the 
Gross Glockner, where he has not climbed, his record of 
peaks is lowest in his own district, for the very good 
reason that his employers hesitated to subject him to the 
anno3^ance inflicted by the guide Bureau on those who 
did not recognise their rules. Michel and Alphonse 
Payot are men of real capacity and power, but no one 
who has climbed with them can be ignorant of their 
views as to the curse of the role. And there is one old 
guide still living at Chamonix whose opinion is entitled 
to still greater weight. This is the doyen of the 
Chamonix guides, Jean Payot, the father of Michel and 
Alphonse. He is ninety-three years of age, and forms a 
wonderful connecting link between the present and the 
past. He was well acquainted with Jacques Balmat, and 
was the leader of the expedition which went to try to 
recover his remains in the Valley of Sixt, in 1853. He 
led Mr. J. E. Cross to the summit of Mont Blanc in 1843, 
and Mr. Richards and Mr. Gretton in 1850. He watched 
the birth of the guide system in 1823, its various develop- 
ments and its final abrogation as an institution supported 
by Government in 1892, and he fearlessly asserts that it 
has done infinite harm. For instance, the shortest way 
from Chamonix to the summit of Mont Blanc is by the 
" ancien passage." It has been seen how dangerous this 
route may be in certain conditions of weather and snow. 



Michel Pavot. 

Jean Payot. 
Mclchior Anderes^g. 

Fi'ani;ois Dcvouassoud. 

[To fine pngc 254. 

The Chamonix Guides 

In settled weather, however, and with a north wind the 
route is perfectly safe. After the accident to Captain 
Arkwright's party in 1866 the Chamonix guide Bureau 
forbade the use of this route ; a foolish step, though 
possibly justified by the stupidity and ignorance of the 
bulk of the Chamonix guides. It is easier for incom- 
petent guides to abandon a particular route altogether, 
than to take the trouble to acquaint themselves with the 
conditions under which it is safe or dangerous. 

Strenuous efforts have been made at various times to 
procure a relaxation of the obnoxious regulations. One 
of the first official acts of the Alpine Club was to send 
a memorial to the Sardinian Government. In this docu- 
ment, dated in 1858, it was pointed out that under the 
laws of 1852 a party desirous of ascending Mont Blanc 
must take four guides for each traveller, and that when, 
in the year 1855, seven Englishmen well accustomed to 
the glaciers desired to make the ascent, they were forced 
to retain the services of twenty-eight guides. As the tariff 
for each guide was a hundred francs, and the travellers 
had to provide food and wine for the whole caravan, the 
cost of such an expedition would have been nearly four 
thousand francs. The absurdity of the regulation was 
admitted, and every member of the Club (which imposes 
upon its members an adequate mountaineering quali- 
fication) was made free to choose what guides he 
pleased and what number he pleased for any kind of 

The Club returned to the charge in 1874, and presented 
a caustic and unanswerable memorial to the French 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Government. They pointed out the gradual and in- 
creasing deterioration in the body of Chamonix guides ; 
they showed that though the glaciers of Mont Blanc were 
better known than any other Alpine region and offered 
no special difficulties or dangers, yet during the few 
preceding years they had been the scene of five fatal 
accidents involving the loss of nineteen lives. They 
urged that the spot of all others endeared to lovers of the 
Alps by natural attractions and traditional associations 
was being gradually abandoned ; and they stated that the 
condition of affairs was prejudicial alike to the safety and 
comfort of travellers in general, and to the true interests 
of the inhabitants. They suggested that the chief guide 
should be an independent person appointed during 
pleasure by the Prefet of the district ; that an unrestricted 
choice of guides should be allowed to all classes of 
travellers ; that the system of admission to the Society 
of Guides should be altered ; that a list of guides with 
their respective qualifications should be printed annually 
and sold to the public, and that the tariff should be 
modified in several particulars. 

The memorial was received with favour by the then 
Prefet of Haute Savoie. He withdrew from the guides 
the right of nomin^iting their own head ; he suggested 
several reforms, and particularly that where a traveller 
expressed no preference in the choice of a guide, it 
should be the duty of the Bureau to recommend men 
who were most fitted for the expedition proposed. The 
Prefet encountered great local opposition, but consider- 
able improvements resulted from the memorial ; the 


The Chamonix Guides 

main point gained being, that at least for a time,i any 
traveller was free to choose his own guides. This con- 
cession was hampered by the monstrous regulation that 
every guide and porter should pay to the Society out 
of his earnings five per cent, on ordinary expeditions, and 
fifteen per cent, on extraordinary ones ; in other words, 
that the most competent guides should contribute to the 
support of the most lazy and incompetent men upon the 

These regulations, notwithstanding the improvements, 
still appeared to climbers to be " a compromise between 
the selfish instincts of the baser part of the population 
and the checks and suggestions of a fussy officialism." 
But they were soon altered for the worse. The absolute 
right of a traveller to choose his own guide was again 
limited, and a free choice was given only to the following 
persons : i. Scientific explorers. 2. Persons not speaking 
French and desiring a guide who could speak their own 
language. 3. Persons desirous of having a guide they 
had previously employed. 4. Persons making perilous 
ascents. 5. Members of any Alpine Club. 6. Ladies 
travelling alone. These rules were foolish and inco- 
herent. If the idea was to give freedom of choice to real 
mountaineers, it was ridiculous to give it to the members 
of every Alpine Club, for nearly all such clubs, except 
the English one, have (very reasonably from their point 
of view) no qualification whatever. Consequently the 
restriction fell chiefly on English and Americans. But 
the fatal defect was that no attempt was made to give 

' " The Alpine Journal, " vol. ix. p. 308. 

257 s 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

travellers reasonable security by ensuring the fitness of 
the guides upon the roll. Hence climbers avoided the 
Chamoniards, and brought more than ever into Chamonix 
the men of Aleyringen and Grindelwald, of Saas and the 
Val Tournanche. The great rock Aiguilles of the chain 
were almost all climbed for the first time under the 
leadership of foreign guides. The men of Chamonix had 
deliberately thrown away their opportunities and they 
had only themselves to blame. Some, indeed, of the 
" baser sort " endeavoured to prevent the access of 
foreigners to their valley. All such attempts miserably 
failed. Against the power of genuine ability all jealousy 
was impotent. The hotel-keepers, a very important 
element in the population, had the most obvious interest 
in Chamonix being frequented, and foreign guides 
were made welcome by all but the guide Bureau, even 
by the better and more enlightened of the guides them- 

In 1889 the French Government desired to allow other 
persons than mere inhabitants of the Commune of 
Chamonix to join the Guide-roll, and this proposition 
caused intense excitement and alarm. Angry recrimina- 
tions took place between the Bureau des Guides and the 
Prefet of Haute Savoie, and ultimately on the thirtieth of 
December, 1892, the Societe des Guides de Chamonix 
was abolished. The Society protested, but in vain. They 
affirmed that the action was illegal ; that it was not really 
due to the Government, but to a Prefet " mal inspire " ; 
that it was contrary to the interests of Chamonix and of 
the guides, porters, and mule owners ; that it was 


The Chamonix Guides 

detrimental to travellers and even to France. They 
complained bitterly that the Government which had 
struck a cruel blow at the unfortunate valley by its 
" brutal abolition " of the Society of Guides, at the same 
time desired to construct a railway to the Montanvert — 
the effect of which would be to render mules useless, to 
diminish the opportunities of the guides, and to involve 
Chamonix in ruin. The Prefet, however, remained firm. 
He was clearly of opinion that one of the first duties of 
any Government is to let its people alone, and so the 
Society as a Corporation under Government control 
ceased to exist after a lifetime of seventy years. 

Travellers would appear to have borne the suppression 
of the Society with resignation if not with equanimity. 
It was theoretically a good thing that the French Govern- 
ment ceased to give official sanction to a thoroughly bad 
system. Practically, however, it has made little difference. 
The men of Chamonix were free to organise themselves, 
and they have done so, though their syndicate does not 
possess the coercive power of the old Society, since those 
who do not belong to it cannot be prevented from acting 
as guides. 

New laws have been adopted which include almost 
everything that was objectionable under the old regime. 
Only persons domiciled in the Commune are eligible to 
serve ; no real provision is made to secure the fitness 
or capacity of the members ; they choose their own 
president and officers ; they make their own regulations, 
and impose their own exorbitant tariff. The six excep- 
tions to the rule that the traveller may not choose his own 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

guides are still allowed, but the guides are at liberty to 
refuse any engagement when chosen out of turn. The 
ablest men must still make the most trivial expeditions or 
lose their turn upon the roll. Free choice of guides, 
other than in excepted cases, is forbidden. The old habits 
and the old traditions have proved too strong. 

It is not to be assumed that Cham.onix is incapable 

of producing guides of high order ; we have sufficient 

evidence to the contrary. But in other districts where 

they are really free, their knowledge and capacity have 

enormously increased. Climbers have had the benefit 

of the services not only of men of such supreme 

excellence as Aimer and Anderegg and Rey, and many 

of the younger generation whose names it would be 

invidious to mention, but also of a rank and file of a 

steadily improving quality. It is, of course, right that 

every centre of mountaineering should have its official 

list of guides from which a man may be excluded for 

misconduct, but, beyond that, most regulations are 

injurious, if not oppressive. It is a grave misfortune for 

Chamonix to have been the site of an experiment which, 

in practice, has so miserably failed, and it is an equal 

misfortune for the climbing world to have lost the 

services of the better men, whom Chamonix, under a 

more rational system, would doubtless have produced. 






IT has already been stated that practically no person 
can be admitted into the Alpine Club without an 
adequate mountaineering qualification. The standard at 
first was not a high one, but in recent years it has been 
steadily raised. The result has been that notwithstanding 
the great growth of mountaineering, the numbers of the 
English Society have been far less than those of Con- 
tinental societies having similar objects. 

The English Club has only about six hundred members. 
The members of the French, German, Swiss and Italian 
Clubs are numbered by thousands. The consequence 
has been that while the English Society has never had 
more funds at its disposal than are necessary for its 
ordinary administration, the other clubs, which impose 
no qualification upon their members, generally, if not 
always, had large funds at their command. How were 
such funds to be applied ? Other European societies, 
containing great numbers of persons not really moun- 
taineers, have naturally more interest than ourselves in 
making mountaineering easy. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Climbing, however fascinating, is very laborious. Was 
there no way in which undue fatigue could be avoided, 
and climbing made easy to the modern mountaineer ? 
Supposing that huts could be constructed about the level 
of the snow-line, and that such huts could be supplied with 
the necessary cooking apparatus, with blankets, possibly 
even with beds ; to what better purpose could surplus 
funds be devoted ? The idea was favourably received, 
and in these later days huts have been erected all over the 
Alps by which the ascent of the great mountains has been 
enormously facilitated. The older generation of climbers 
would probably have preferred the old ways. There was 
a charm in the night bivouac by the glacier, and in the 
camp fire under the lonely crags ; there was a sense of 
freedom in lying out in the open in the moonlight, or 
under the multitudinous stars, for the loss of which the 
modern hut is but a poor consolation. On the other 
hand it must be admitted, that the new system enables 
many persons to attain summits which otherwise would 
be inaccessible to them, and makes it feasible to start in 
doubtful weather at the mere cost of returning if the 
weather grows worse. Again, huts form a valuable refuge 
when anything goes wrong, in cases of injury or illness, 
or when a violent storm overtakes a descending party. 
Doubtless to lie out on a mountain side, often in wet 
or in cold, is not the best preliminary for a success- 
ful expedition ; and so the era of huts and refuges 
set in. 

Saussure, it will be remembered, had a cabin con- 
structed on the rocks of the Grands Mulets in 1786, but 


Huts, Refuges, and Observatories 

it was too small, and falling into disuse ultimately dis- 
appeared. M. le Pileur records that he saw the ruins of 
it so late as 1844. The Chamonix guides soon recognised 
that the ascent of the mountain would be made easier 
and more attractive by the construction of a suitable 
refuge at the Grands Mulcts. Accordingly they had a 
wooden building put together, and piece by piece carried 
up to its intended position. It was erected on a little 
platform on the summit of the rocks in the year 1853, 
and for thirteen years men passed the night there previous 
to an ascent of the mountain. It was very rough, being 
furnished only with a stove, a table, a bench, and some- 
times hay and straw enough for sleeping purposes. A 
careful drawing of this hut was made by Mr. Adams 
Reilly in the year 1862 and is reproduced in this volume. 
This was the first refuge, other than that of Saussure, ever 
erected on the mountain. Many men who dreaded pass- 
ing a night upon the open rocks were now provided with 
an adequate shelter, and the subjection of Mont Blanc 

Ascents from the side of St. Gervais were not numerous, 
but the guides of that village became anxious about the 
superior facilities offered to climbers from the Chamonix 
side. The new hut on the Grands Mulcts afforded a 
sleeping place at a height of about 10,000 feet above the 
sea-level. The St. Gervais men proceeded to construct 
a hut on the summit of the Aiguille du Gouter at a height 
of 13,000 feet, and not more than five hours' walking from 
the summit of Mont Blanc. This refuge was erected 
under the superintendence of Frederic Mollard, a well- 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

known guide of St. Gervais, in the autumn of 1 856.1 
Though it was completely rebuilt in 1882, it is still a 
wretched place. It is generally half full of ice or snow, 
but is still used by climbers of the mountain from the 
western side. 

But to return to Chamonix : In the year 1866 there 
was a well-known guide of that village called Sylvain 
Couttet. He was the proprietor of the little inn at 
the Pierre Pointue some three hours above Chamonix. 
The well-known Venance Payot was then Mayor of the 
village, and the two determined to supersede the hut 
which had been used for thirteen years, and to erect 
" a Pavilion " in its place which should be under the 
control of the proprietor of the inn at the Pierre Pointue. 
Both this inn, which was enlarged and improved, and the 
intended pavilion or "hotellerie," were let to Sylvain 
Couttet for a term of years. The new building, also con- 
structed of wood, was put together at Chamonix ; the 
materials were carried up in 1866, and greatly improved 
accommodation was afforded to travellers when the 
new refuge was opened in the following year. There 
was a small dining-room, two bedrooms furnished with 
camp bedsteads, and a little kitchen with an excellent 
stove. At first there was no permanent resident, but 
when travellers set out for the Grands Mulcts they 
necessarily passed the inn at the Pierre Pointue, and 
porters were sent thence with fire-wood, blankets and 

' M. Durier and Mr. Coolidge say that this cabin was built in 1858, but this 
cannot be accurate, as it is well known that Mr. Bradshaw Smith and Mr. B. 
St. John Mathews slept in it in July and August, 1857. See Coleman's "Scenes 
from the Snow Fields," p. 34. 


The llul uii llie Aiuiiille du Goutcr, 

The First Hut on the Grands Mulets. 

[7\) hue pngf :!64. 

Huts, Refuges, and Observatories 

provisions. Couttet enlarged the refuge by building 
a sleeping place for guides ; he improved the beds, and 
ultimately appointed a resident attendant who was in 
occupation from the first of July till the end of September 
in each year. For six years, however, the attendant was 
annually changed, as she was found unable to bear the 
rigours of the situation for more than one season. At 
length, in 1878, one Marie Tairraz was discovered, who 
was mistress of the establishment for eleven successive 
seasons, and who was not only capable of bearing the 
isolation and the cold, but ministered to the comfort of 
travellers and guides with a quickness and a good-humour 
which will long be remembered. Thus the ascent of the 
mountain was made easy. Travellers had no longer to 
carry blankets, food, or fuel with them to the Grands 
Mulcts. The new refuge was regularly supplied from the 
Pierre Pointue, and climbers of Mont Blanc could rely 
upon a good meal and a fair bed on the eve of an intended 

As visitors to the Grands Mulcts increased, the new 
building was found inadequate. The occupation of 
Sylvain Couttet terminated in 1880, and the Commune 
of Chamonix took that opportunity of enlarging and 
improving the little inn. The platform on which the old 
one was erected was not capable of enlargement, so a 
new one was constructed and a second inn was built 
upon it and opened in 1881. Instead of two bedrooms, 
there were now four, each containing two beds, and the 
kitchen was considerably improved. The building was 
of stone instead of wood, the tariff was somewhat reduced, 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

but was then, and is still excessive. As the years rolled 
on, the new and improved inn became also inadequate. 
A fresh one was constructed in 1896 and opened in the 
following year. It contains eight bedrooms furnished 
with excellent beds, and has a large and commodious 
kitchen, the guides being accommodated in the old 
hostelry. Improvements have been so continuous and 
so rapid that it is impossible to predict what further 
developments may be in store for the Grands Mulcts, but 
the advantages now afforded will probably amply suffice 
for many years to come. 

The Chamonix way to the summit is the easiest and 
therefore the most popular of the various routes up Mont 
Blanc ; at least twenty ascents are made by way of the 
Grands Mulcts, to one that is made by any other route. 
It is only natural, therefore, that the most popular route 
should command the best accommodation. Some of the 
other routes, however, have not been wholly neglected. 
At present there is no refuge either on the Brenva route 
or on the Brouillard route, and climbers who make the 
ascent in these directions have still to camp out in the 

On the Rochers du Mont Blanc route two huts have 
been constructed by the Italian Alpine Club. One of 
these was built in 1875 at a height of 10,194 ^^^^> ^'^^t has 
now fallen into disuse. The other, known as the '* Quin- 
tino Sella hut," was constructed ten years later, at a height 
exceeding 11,000 feet, and is now used by the few persons 
who undertake that magnificent expedition. The popular 
route from Courmayeur is by the Dome glacier and the 


Huts, Refuges, and Observatories 

Aiguilles Grises. At the foot of the latter an admirable 
hut was built in 1891, which affords excellent accommo- 
dation to the ever-increasing number of travellers who 
ascend Mont Blanc from this direction. On the western 
route, men though still sometimes sleeping in the hut on 
the Aiguille du Gouter, more frequently prefer the little 
refuge at its foot, and it is now in contemplation to build 
not a refuge, but an inn like that on the Grands Mulcts, 
on the right bank of the Bionnassay glacier, near the Tete 

On the eastern side it is not the custom to sleep on the 
Col du Geant, which is too far distant from the summit 
of the mountain ; although there is an excellent cabin on 
the Col itself, and a new and efficient " hotellerie " is 
being constructed just below the Col on the Italian side. 
Climbers of Mont Blanc from the east, that is by way of 
the Mont Blanc de Tacul and the Mont Maudit, will 
always prefer the hut under the Aiguille du Midi — a 
refuge which has recently been much improved. Of the 
seven different routes, therefore, the accommodation on 
one (from Chamonix) is more than enough ; on two others 
there is no refuge at all, and on the remaining four the 
sleeping arrangements are sufficient to meet the require- 
ments of any reasonable mountaineer. The ascent of 
Mont Blanc from all sides except Chamonix is still 
arduous enough, but the comforts and conveniences on 
the Chamonix route are such as to bring the mountain 
within reach of persons of very moderate capacity. In 
the old days the traveller, after leaving the Pierre Pointue, 
bade adieu for a time to the habitable world. All food 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

and fuel had to be carried with him. What is the case 
now ? The cHmb from the valley to the summit involves 
about fourteen hours of actual walking — the time varying, 
of course, in accordance with the capacity of the climber 
and the conditions of weather and snow. Three hours 
from Chamonix is the Pierre Pointue, where rest and 
refreshment can be obtained. Four hours further are 
the Grands Mulcts, where the climber may obtain a 
dinner and a bed. After a night's rest, five hours' more 
walking brings him to the Vallot refuge, where he may 
rest again and regain, if necessary, his exhausted faculties ; 
and in two hours more he may reach the summit, where 
he will now also find a place of shelter. Truly the 
mountain has been brought into subjection, at least on 
the Chamonix side. 

It is manifest that these various refuges greatly facilitate 
the ascent of the mountain, but, on the other hand, they 
are not without their dangers. Men too often think 
that they can get from one to another under conditions 
of weather when no prudent person would be on the moun- 
tain at all. If in the year 1892 there had been no refuge 
on the Vallot rocks, Mr. Nettleship's party would not have 
dreamt of leaving the hut on the Aiguille du Goiiter in 
the face of a storm about to burst upon them ; and a 
valuable life would have been saved. 

In the year 1888 M. J. Vallot, a well-known lover of 
Mont Blanc and a gentleman of considerable scientific 
attainments, pointed out the advisability of constructing 
a refuge at a height of 14,000 feet. He urged that many 
attempted ascents resulted in failure owing to fatigue, to 


Huts, Refuges, and Observatories 

passing too rapidly into a rarefied air, to want of sufficient 
food and rest, and other causes. If, he said, a suitable 
refuge could be constructed at a great height, strong men 
could rest for a time with pleasure, and weak men could 
sleep there, could get habituated to low pressures, and 
could be enabled to ascend Mont Blanc from such an 
eyrie in a couple of hours. 

M. Vallot at first desired to build an observatory only, 
but the Commune of Chamonix declined to accord him 
this privilege unless he at the same time constructed a 
refuge that might be useful to travellers. This course 
was agreed to. An admirable site was chosen at the foot 
of the Bosses du Dromadaire, where some rocks crop out 
in the snowy ridge connecting the Bosses with the Dome. 
It was clear that a good foundation could be obtained 
for the proposed building, which was constructed at 
Chamonix in the spring of 1890. It was carried up in 
pieces by a host of guides and porters, and was erected 
on a good rock bed in the month of July in that year. 
Part of it was intended for the refuge, and the remainder 
was to be used for scientific purposes. Some time later 
M. Vallot built another refuge for public use, also on 
good rocks at a short distance from the observator}-, of 
which he then took exclusive possession. Few persons 
ascend the mountain from Chamonix without halting at 
the refuge, which sometimes proves to be the limit of the 
traveller's endurance, but which in most cases enables 
him to rest and refit, and to pass on to the summit. 

No reasonable person can find any fault with the Vallot 
observatory. It cannot be seen from Chamonix. It 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

affords a comfortable shelter. Its owner often spends 
several consecutive weeks there. He watches his valuable 
scientific instruments and carries on his observations with 
sufficient comfort, though sometimes in intense cold, as 
warmth can only be obtained by burning petroleum. 

Some results of M. Vallot's observations are already 
communicated to the public. ^ He is now building a 
house outside the village which will be in direct com- 
munication — by signal — with the observatory, which is 
about to be removed to a more commodious site at a 
short distance from the present one. Scientific men 
expect a good deal from M. Vallot's researches, and they 
are not likely to be disappointed. His work is difficult 
and laborious, involving great physical strain and con- 
stant self-denial. He has shown unvarying courtesy to 
English climbers and scientific investigators, and every 
one heartily wishes him success in his undertaking. 

As soon as the Vallot observatory was completed it 
was visited by another distinguished man of science, M. 
Janssen, who was not only a prominent member of the 
French Academy of Sciences, but the director of the 
well-known observatory of Meudon. He, too, wanted 
a pure atmosphere for scientific observation, and was of 
opinion that if an observatory could be constructed on 
the actual summit of Mont Blanc, it would be of the 
highest importance for astronomy, physics, and meteor- 
ology. The necessary funds were soon forthcoming, 
though the prevalent opinion, both scientific and general, 

' " Annales de I'observatoire meteorologique du Mont Blanc," J. Vallot, Paris, 


Huts, Refuges, and Observatories 

was antagonistic to his scheme. Consent was given by 
the Commune, but again on the condition that another 
refuge should be provided for the pubHc, which was 
ultimately erected on the summit of the Rochers Rouges. 

The services of M. Eiffel were retained, together with 
those of Herr X. Imfeld, the well-known Swiss engineer. 
The one thing needed was a rock base. Unfortunately 
no such base was found possible on the summit of Mont 
Blanc, and after great expense had been incurred in 
tunnelling, and great suffering to individual guides and 
porters, the idea of the rock base was unwillingly 
abandoned. Herr Imfeld admitted that he had worked 
without hope, and that in his opinion the cost and the 
risk were out of all proportion to any practical results 
that were likely to be obtained. 

Workmen had been engaged during the months of 
August and September, 1891, under the leadership of 
Frederic Payot, and they used M. Vallot's observatory as 
a base of operations. But they suffered severely from 
storms and cold ; some were badly frost-bitten, some were 
disabled from mountain sickness, some deserted, and one 
person. Dr. Jacottet of Chamonix, who served as a 
volunteer, was seized with delirium under M. Vallot's 
roof and died there. Dr. Janssen, however, never lost 
heart, and determined to place the observatory upon the 
snow. A temporary or pioneer structure of wood about 
six feet high was placed in a hole on the summit, half 
being above the snow and half below it. In the course 
of two years this trial structure sunk so much that it 
almost disappeared, and grave doubts arose as to whether 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

any building constructed upon the summit would not 
inevitably sink with the snow. Dr. Janssen would not 
admit the possibility of failure. He completed a 
structure at Meudon, and sent it to Chamonix, whence 
the bulk of it was carried to a spot above the Rochers 
Rouges in the summer of 1892. In the following 
year the remainder of the building was dragged up. 
It was not completed until 1894, and the various 
scientific instruments were hauled up and placed in 
position in 1895. No one doubts the ability, the courage, 
and the perseverance of Dr. Janssen. But is the game 
worth the candle ? If it be desirable to know the 
extreme amount of cold that prevails upon Mont Blanc, 
surely a maximum and minimum thermometer placed on 
or near the summit would be sufficient for that purpose. 
What researches in astronomy or meteorology are likely 
to be made ? An observatory is, or ought to be, a place 
where some one can observe. Observations, to be of any 
real use, must be constant and continuous. How can 
this be the case on a spot where the temperature is now 
known to have fallen as low as forty-five degrees below 
zero of Fahrenheit ? ^ 

The subject must be considered from the point of view 
not of the scientific observer only, but of the lover of 
nature. Here is a noble summit, once of spotless snow, 
on which a building has been erected which can only be 
described as horrible and heartrending. Dr. Janssen 
himself told the Academy of Sciences " that there must 
be some degree of uncertainty about the result." 

• Whymper's " Guide to Chamonix and Mont Blanc," page 78. 

The Janssen Observatory. 

The Vallot Obsetvatorv and Refuce. 

[ 7c' fiUC pil^C 272. 

Huts, Refuges, and Observatories 

If any permanent good could be reasonably anticipated, 
if any fairy tale of science could ever emanate from 
it, the hideous abortion might be borne with patience, 
though with a sad heart. But it would appear that any 
prospect of scientific discovery is an idle dream. The 
so-called observatory is on the move ; the inevitable 
downward tendency of the glacier of which the summit 
is composed makes stability impossible ; the self-registering 
instruments have ceased to register. 

Meantime the mountaineer is deprived of the mighty 
panorama which he has enjoyed for more than a century, 
and is forced to crawl round the building and seek in 
instalments his once unrestricted view. Surely it is time 
that, in the interests of insulted Nature, some protest 
should be made against the arbitrary encroachments of 
misdirected science. 

Note. — When the site of the last " hotellerie " at the Grands Mulcts was fixed 
upon, a rock was found bearing the initials of Jacques Balmat, and the date 1786. 
The portion of the rock on which tlie initials were carved was carefully removed, 
and is now in the Mairie at Chamonix. 




IN perusing the accounts of the earlier ascents of Mont 
Blanc, every one must be struck with the sufferings 
which the unfortunate pioneers endured. All of them 
complained bitterly. They were frostbitten, they were 
blinded, they were horribly blistered, they could not 
breathe the rarefied air. Some of them were urgent in 
their advice that no one should follow their example. 
Sherwill advised none of his friends to undertake such 
a journey. He says : "It is in itself a dangerous effort. 
The risk of losing one's own life or that of the guides is 
too great to be incurred without a very important object." 
Sir Charles Fellows was still more emphatic. He says 
that " great as is the pleasure of overcoming an acknow- 
ledged succession of dangers, any one who sets the least 
value upon his own life, or upon theirs who must accom- 
pany him on such an expedition, hazards a risk which 
upon calm consideration he ought not to venture ; and if 
it ever falls to my lot to dissuade a friend from attempting 
what we have gone through, I shall consider that I have 
saved his life." 


Gleanings and Reflections 

In these days men climb the mountain as a matter of 
course, and frostbite and bhndness and other forms of 
suffering are, if proper precautions are taken, ahnost un- 
known. How is this ? The dangers are the same as in 
the time of Saussure, or Sherwill, or Sir Charles Fellows. 
The real reason is that we know more than our fathers. 
It is with mountains as with other problems ; to be suc- 
cessful we must know what we have to do and do it. 

Beyond all question, too, the mental factor must be 
largely taken into account. The early travellers on Mont 
Blanc all had a very vivid impression of the dangers of 
the mountain. From the start they believed that they 
were undertaking an expedition of great peril, one in 
which it required exceptional powers to succeed, and 
in which it was no discredit to fail. Men in such a frame 
of mind lose the sense of proportion. Fatigue is assumed 
to be utter exhaustion, quickened respiration to be im- 
pending suffocation, and the difficult and arduous to be 
absolutely impossible. It is not that the pioneers were 
less courageous or possessed of less " grit " than the men 
of to-day. The very reverse is the real truth. It is so 
easy to follow where others have led ; and only moun- 
taineers can fully appreciate the immense difference 
between a first and a second ascent. 

Paccard and Balmat were unaware that to face fresh 
snow for many hours in daylight with uncovered eyes, 
causes serious inflammation, resulting in partial blindness 
which may often last for many days. Early travellers 
took long to understand that the skin will peel from the 
face in gruesome blisters if unprotected from the Alpine 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

glare. The lessons which had already been learnt in the 
sixteenth century by the peasants of Canton Valais do not 
seem to have been communicated to Savoy. Men have 
now learnt that if the eyes are carefully shaded with dark 
spectacles neither sun nor snow will do them any harm. 
Any form of grease will protect the skin, and in these 
days the youngest climber would not fail to be provided 
with the necessary specific. In old times frostbite attacked 
hands and feet with a contemptuous impartiality, but Mr. 
Woodley could have set all cold at defiance, as men for 
the most part do now, by the use of suitable coverings for 
the feet and hands. Proper clothing is of vital importance. 
The climber of Mont Blanc may experience in the course 
of a single day almost incredible alternations of heat and 
cold. Some years ago the author registered in the month 
of August, at the Vallot hut, a temperature of four degrees 
below zero (Fahrenheit) — thirty-six degrees of frost — at 
seven o'clock in the morning, and the tea and wine he 
carried with him were frozen solid. Five hours later the 
heat was so great that he descended the mountain in his 
shirt-sleeves. The pioneers could not or would not 
appreciate this condition of things. Colonel Beaufoy 
records : " My dress was a white flannel jacket without 
any shirt beneath, and white linen trousers without 
drawers." No wonder that he suffered. A man does 
not explore the Arctic regions in pyjamas. Good and 
well-chosen food is also absolutely necessary. The 
" strange flesh " of the Alps is often uneatable, and as 
a rule is indigestible. At great heights the appetite is apt 
to be delicate, and requires kindly consideration. A 


Gleanings and Reflections 

tender "poulet," with wholesome bread, and plenty of 
butter and honey, chocolate, and, above all, tinned 
fruits, will generally suffice for the most laborious 
excursion. It is easy to understand the intolerable thirst 
of which the older mountaineers complained, since they 
endeavoured to assuage it with vinegar, or small doses of 
sour wine. The modern climber, if well provided with 
cold tea, and with a judiciously iced mixture of sound 
red wine, seltzer water, lemons and sugar, will never suffer 
from undue thirst. 

Again, almost all the early climbers waxed eloquent 
about the rarefaction of the air, and complaints were 
bitter and continuous as to the baneful effects of low 
atmospheric pressures upon the human organisation. 
The observations of the last few years have thrown 
a good deal of light upon this still vexed question. It 
was once thought that at a certain height (never distinctly 
ascertained) it would be altogether impossible to breathe. 
Saussure himself and others have described the effect of 
low pressures upon the human body, at a height of nine 
or ten thousand feet. But in old days when men failed 
from any cause, from want of sleep, or proper food or 
clothing, from imperfect digestion, or from insufficient 
training, they spoke vaguely of the rarity of the air as the 
cause of all their misfortunes. 

It is, of course, beyond doubt that the air on the 
summit of Mont Blanc is very different from what it is at 
the sea-level, or in the Valley of Chamonix. M. J. Vallot 
estimates that the quantity of oxygen is diminished by 
about one-half. I may perhaps be allowed to relate 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

a rather singular personal experience. On one of the 
twelve occasions on which I have been on the summit of 
the mountain our party consisted of eight persons. The 
sky was quite cloudless, and the air absolutely calm and 
still. We all remained in a state of perfect enjoyment for 
nearly three hours. At the end of that time, and within 
the space of two or three minutes, seven out of the eight 
were attacked by headache and nausea, and the symptoms 
continued till the lower level of the Grand Plateau was 
gained. That men are sometimes subject to considerable 
discomfort owing to low pressures, even on such a height 
as Mont Blanc, is quite clear, and it has been remarked 
that this discomfort is far more common when the air is 
still, than when it is stirring. Ascents, however, in other 
ranges in recent years have proved that men when reason- 
ably "habituated" can breathe with freedom at much 
greater heights, even up to 23,000 feet and more. Mr. 
Bryce tells us that he suffered a little from what he 
thought to be the effect of low pressures at the height of 
13,000 feet on Mount Ararat, but far less at 17,000 feet, 
when he reached the summit. Herr von Thielmann tells 
us that on the top of Popocatapetl, 17,880 feet, he was 
entirely free from all the unpleasant effects wont to be 
ascribed to the rarity of the atmosphere ; and that on 
Cotopaxi, 19,600 feet, none of the climbers showed any 
signs of exhaustion, and the appetite of all was excellent. 
In climbing Chimborazo, 20,545 ^^et, Mr. Whymper, it is 
true, suffered on his first ascent, though quite possibly 
from other causes ; but six months later, after having 
trained himself amongst the great peaks of the Ecuadorian 


Gleanings and Reflections 

Andes, he climbed it a second time, and experienced no 
inconvenience whatever. 

Sir Martin Conway attained a height of 23,000 feet 
on the Pioneer Peak in the Karakoram Himalayas, and 
although " his heart was in a parlous state, his breathing 
apparatus was working well enough." He had clearly 
" not come to the end of his tether." Mr. Vines and the 
guide Zurbriggen suffered to some extent, but not 
seriously, in their ascents of Aconcagua, probably the 
highest point of the earth's surface which has yet been 

There are some who assert that the indisposition ex- 
perienced by climbers is the efifect of low pressures ; others 
that it is attributable to the deficiency of oxygen in the 
air,i and that all difficulty may be surmounted by inhaling 
oxygen at great heights ; but practical climbers know that 
such a course would be impossible on the mountain-side. 
The whole subject is really very complex and has at 
present been insufficiently investigated, but the following 
points appear to be already established beyond reasonable 

First, that mountain-sickness — to use an accepted but 
inaccurate term — as experienced by travellers on such 
heights as Mont Blanc, is in the great majority of cases 
not due solely to low atmospheric pressure. Secondly, 
that the first climbers to reach heights of from 23,000 to 
24,000 feet above the level of the sea, have been able to 

» Note. — M. Paul Bert is the chief exponent of one view {" La Pression Ba- 
rometrique," Paris, 1878). The subject is dealt with by Mr. Clintou T. Dent 
in an admirable manner in the Nineteenth Century magazine for October, 1S92. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

move and have their being without more difficulty than 
the early climbers experienced on Mont Blanc ; and 
thirdly, that it is by no means impossible that men may 
hereafter find means and prove capable of climbing the 
highest mountains in the world. The questions involved 
are of great interest both from a scientific and a moun- 
taineering point of view, but their consideration is outside 
the limits contemplated by this volume. ^ 

Many of the earlier ascents of Mont Blanc, and 
particularly since the establishment of the Chamonix 
guide system, involved a heavy and wholly unnecessary 
expenditure. Fifty years ago in all centres, other than 
Chamonix, there was no guide system at all. Men 
obtained the services of the local chamois hunter, who 
was glad enough to accept a payment of seven or eight 
francs a day for showing the way up peaks or passes, 
the present tariff for which may be forty or fifty francs. 
At Chamonix the creation of the guide system meant 
the extraction of the maximum of money from the 
pocket of the mountaineer. 

Saussure, according to Dr. Paccard, paid his guides 
only six francs a day. Some of the early climbers paid 
no more than fifty or sixty francs to each guide for the 
ascent of Mont Blanc, but when climbers increased, the 
tariff became enormous. First men were advised to 

' Note. — Those who are interested in the subject may be referred to Professor 
Angelo Mosso's " Fisiologia dell' Uomo sulle Alpi" (Milan, 1897), an English 
translation of which is just published. The book is not a dry scientific 
treatise, but written in popular form. I question, however, whether the 
views expressed by Professor Mosso are likelj' to be generally accepted by 
men of science 


Gleanings and Reflections 

take mules as far as the Pierre Pointue. Then they 
were informed that each traveller must have four guides 
at a cost of one hui^dred francs apiece. Then an 
inordinate supply of provisions was laid in, and it became 
necessary to hire a host of porters to deal with the 
commissariat. Then a successful ascent was celebrated 
by the discharge of cannon, and the cost of much gun- 
powder was included in the bill ; and finally, for a 
payment of five francs, a certificate was granted by the 
Bureau des Guides, as the only real evidence of success. 
The ascent of Albert Smith and his friends cost nearly 
2,400 francs. 

Up to the year 1865 every successful climber, on his 
return from the summit, met with an ovation in the 
village. The proprietor of the hotel from which he 
started provided him with an enormous bouquet, and 
copious libations were placed freely at the command of 
all the members of his party. As ascents became more 
numerous this custom died out. At present the only 
survival of the old system consists in the firing of 
cannon to celebrate the traveller's return ; a custom 
which in the interests of the peace and quietness of 
visitors who are not mountaineers, would be more 
honoured in the breach than in the observance. 

Everybody climbs Mont Blanc now. Familiarity has 
bred for it, not indeed contempt, but at least indifference. 
Men have climbed it without guides ; women have 
climbed it ; blind men have climbed it ; a priest has 
said Mass upon its summit ; it has been scaled in the 
depth of winter ; Professor Tyndall slept upon the top, 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

though not without much suffering ; M. Vallot spent 
three days and nights there. Many a great feat has 
been achieved upon it ; Mr. Frederick Morshead once 
cHmbed it alone, and went up and down in less than 
seventeen hours ; but after all, the better it is known, 
the more it is appreciated, and the greater seems to be 
its subtle and indefinable charm. 

Let it never be forgotten that in order to ensure perfect 
enjoyment and a due capacity for appreciation, the first 
requisite is bodily fitness. How few of the early ex- 
plorers, or indeed of modern climbers, have been capable 
of taking this lesson to heart. A man finds himself at 
Chamonix or at Courmayeur, and around him the air 
is always seething with Alpine enterprise. He is 
ambitious ; he too will share in the raptures of the 
mountaineer. So he starts for the arduous excursion, 
without experience, without training, and without know- 
ledge. He may succeed, or he may fail ; but if he 
succeed, success is too often devoid of joy. He will 
be able to say that he has ascended Mont Blanc ; but 
w^iat then — many foolish people have done as much 
before. It may be unhesitatingly affirmed that two out 
of three persons who make this ascent have no real 
delight in it. Some are dragged up like logs, are sick 
at heart before they get halfway, and wish they were 
dead long before the summit is attained. They have 
not served an apprenticeship to their business. They 
suffer both at the time and afterwards ; over-exertion 
causes mental paralysis, and genuine appreciation of 
mountain beauty becomes impossible. To the spirit 


Gleanings and Reflections 

hampered by jaded limbs or a disordered stomach, the 
subUmities of nature appeal in vain. When will men 
learn that it is impossible to go to the Alps direct from 
the pulpit, or the bar, or the desk, or the other sedentary 
occupations of life, and walk continuously for sixteen 
or eighteen, or it may be for twenty hours, without 
insulting nature, who is certain to take her revenge. 
But the mountaineer who loves nature for her own sake, 
works on wholly different lines. He knows what a 
great mountain has to teach him, and he prepares 
himself to receive the lesson with a sympathetic and 
a reverent heart. He trains his body and keeps open 
his mind. Undue bodily fatigue is unknown to him, 
and therefore he always possesses the maximum capacity 
of appreciation. To him every tree, or fern, or flower 
has its tale to tell ; to him the jagged rocks reveal their 
own history ; to him the glory of the sunlight on the 
eternal snows, and the " silence that is in the starry sky " 
alike bring happiness and peace. 

My story is now told. In these days men go further 

" All experience is an arch where thro' 
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades 
For ever and for ever when I move." 

They make expeditions involving weeks or months of 
labour and of toil. They talk, doubtless justly enough, 
of the beauties of Kasbek and Dykhtau. They look 
down into the crater of Cotopaxi, and sweep the horizon 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

from Chimborazo. They have brought under subjection 
Pioneer Peak and Illimani, Aconcagua and Tupungato. 
The world is now well known, and since modern geo- 
graphical discovery must necessarily tend in the direction 
of mountain exploration, who shall blame them if their 
thoughts are turned to the mightiest of the world's 
pinnacles in Sikkim or Nepal. 

I envy the pioneers of the future. " Other men are 
young now, but we no more." But the old school will 
never think any mountain so interesting or so beautiful 
as Mont Blanc. Tourists can never spoil it. Huts can 
never wholly vulgarise it. " Age cannot wither nor 
custom stale its infinite variety." The tracks of summer 
are obliterated by the snows of winter, and each new 
man, each new generation of men, will find in it, as we 
have found, the same interest and the same charm. 

The men of old time used to say that no one could 
climb Parnassus without becoming either a poet or mad. 
It was indeed asserted forty years ago in a well-known 
guide-book, that most of those who had hitherto ascended 
Mont Blanc had been persons of unsound mind. It is 
true that if a man is capable of poetic feeling at all, the 
study of the great mountains will encourage and develop 
it ; and the madness, after all, has not been without 

Mountaineering has its lights and shades, but it is a 
pursuit which has added greatly and permanently to the 
sum of human happiness. Who shall measure the 
amount ? Who is there who can sleep on a glacier 
in the moonlight, or by the camp fire amongst the lonely 


Gleanings and Reflections 

hills; who can listen to the music of the wind against 
the crags, or of the water falling far below ; who can 
traverse the vast white solitudes in the night time under 
the silent stars ; who can watch the rose of dawn in the 
east, or the great peaks flushed with carmine at sunset, 
without thoughts which it seems almost sacrilege to put 
into words, without memories which can never be 
effaced, for they sink into the soul ! 

Mont Blanc has now been known to five successive 
generations. Men may come and go, but its mighty 
summit " abides untroubled by the coming and going 
of the world." And to those who know it well and 
love it dearly, come often, in quiet hours, teeming 
thoughts which swarm like bees ; sunny memories of 
successful endeavour, of transcendent beauty, and of 
priceless friendships, which have added health, and 
sweetness, and happiness to life. 




THE geological structure of the Mont Blanc range is 
comparatively simple, though first impressions are 
likely to be misleading. If a section were drawn such 
as could be examined in crossing from Chamonix to Cour- 
mayeur by the Col du Geant it would exhibit the following 
succession : ^ — About the former village, gravel and alluvial 
deposits cover in many places the bed of the valley; 
but on both sides here and there, and especially on the 
lower slopes north of the Glacier de Bois, a dark, slaty 
rock is exposed which is referred by geologists to the 
Jurassic system, and supposed to be contemporaneous 
with the middle and lower oolites of Britain. This rock 
forms all the slopes leading up to the Col de Balme, and 
extends into the valley of the Trient. Just opposite to the 
end of the Glacier d'Argentiere, and on the north side of 
the valley, another sedimentary rock appears, itself often 
dark in colour, and sometimes a slate, which runs for 
a time along the western side of the Jurassic mass, and 

' See figure p. 294. 

The Geology of Mont Blanc 

then is continued along the line of the lower valley of the 
Trient to that of the Rhone near Vernayaz. This, which 
can be easily examined from the high-road, at the well- 
known Tete Noire, or almost anywhere below Salvan, is 
a member of the Carboniferous system. 

Ascending the slopes towards the Montanvert, we find 
these formed of fairly hard mica schists, or rather fine- 
grained mica gneisses, which on the right bank of the 
Glacier de Bois seem to overlie the Jurassic rocks already 
mentioned, and extend along the lower slopes of the 
Aiguilles, as far as the eye can reach. This group, before 
we reach the Montanvert itself is succeeded by another of 
rather harder, less micaceous gneisses,^ which also extend 
towards the north-east, forming a band of varying breadth, 
from which the craggy shoulders of the Aiguilles have 
been carved. To this succeeds, as we ascend, a huge mass 
of coarse gneissoid or granitoid rock which has long borne 
the name of protogine. Of this rock, the peaks of the 
great Aiguilles, and the actual summit, with the southern 
precipices and pinnacles, of Mont Blanc itself are com- 

Protogine continues, after we have crossed the water- 
shed, down the steep slopes on the southern face of the 
range, until we approach the Mont Frety, when we again 
find a black slaty rock. This, on examination is found to 
make its appearance nearly opposite to the end of the 
Glacier de Fresnay, on the right bank of the valley, but 
the belt expands at the foot of the Brenva Glacier so as to 

• The distinction between the two groups of rocks is not very well marked, and 
is not, so far as I have been able to form an opinion, an important one. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

occupy the lower slopes of the Val Ferret on both sides, 
until it passes away in a north-north-east direction over 
the well-known Col of the same name. South of the 
trough occupied by the Vals Ferret and Veni, the moun- 
tains for the most part are formed of a group of calcareous 
and micaceous schists, but there are one or two intercala- 
tions of other rocks, some newer, others probably older. 
But to enter into the structural details of this region 
would occupy too much space and is unnecessary for 
our present purpose. 

We see then that the protogine occupies a verj' elon- 
gated oval or vesica-shaped area in the central and eastern 
parts of the Mont Blanc range ; that it is flanked on the 
western side, possibly also on the eastern, by a gneiss ; ^ 
and this again by rocks which may be designated collec- 
tively mica schists, ^ the latter seeming gradually to take 
the place of the former as they approach the peak of 
Mont Blanc itself, so that the mica schists form all the 
ridge of the Dome du Gouter and rise, on the western side, 
almost up to the summit. In fact the protogine is repre- 
sented on the geological map of the Swiss Survey as ending 
rather abruptly, and the whole range from one side to the 
other, all about the Aiguille du Miage, du Glacier, etc., is 
coloured as mica schist. This rock passes out of the 
Mont Blanc district towards the south-west as a long zones 

' A thin zone of gneiss is seen flanking the Jurassic rocks at La Saxe, north of 

2 There are also two or three small masses of dioritic or serpentinous rock which 
are intrusive in the gneiss and schists ; veins of a fine-grained granite also occur 
not unfrequently, somewhat resembling the masses at the Cascade Berard. 

3 Gneiss, however, and even granite enter into the composition of this zone, 
though, at any rate for a time, mica schist seems to dominate. 


The Geology of Mont Blanc 

which extends into Dauphine, though a strip of Jurassic 
rock on the Col du Bonhomme and to the north of it 
may be regarded as a limitation ; it also crosses the Arve 
near the end of the Glacier des Bossons (not, however, 
without a slight interruption from the Jurassic rock), but 
does not extend far to the north. The craggy range on 
this side of the valley, from the Brevent to beyond the 
Aiguilles Rouges, with one remarkable exception, to be 
noticed directly, is composed of gneiss, generally similar 
to that of the Montanvert. 

We have said that the geological structure of this range 
is misleading, if first impressions be blindly followed, and 
for this reason. The Jurassic rocks in the Valley of 
Chamonix appear to dip on the northern side at a high 
angle below the gneiss, and on the southern in the same 
way under the mica schist. Again, on the latter side, the 
mica schist seems to pass beneath the gneiss, and the 
gneiss itself beneath the protogine, the angle of inclina- 
tion in the apparent bedding gradually becoming steeper, 
till in the more central part of the range it is actually 
vertical. When the watershed has been crossed the angle 
of dip appears to diminish gradually in descending, but 
its direction now is northwards instead of southwards; 
and when the Jurassic slates are reached, they, as in the 
other valley, seemingly plunge beneath the crystalline 
rocks. Thus our first impulse would be to regard the 
Jurassic as the oldest member of the section — a thing 
which a little consideration shows to be impossible, for 
on the supposition that the whole series consists of 
stratified rocks, beds comparatively unaltered could not, 

289 U 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

on any rational theory of metamorphism, underlie those 
which were highly altered. It was soon perceived that in 
reality the slaty rocks of Jurassic age in the valleys on 
either side of the Mont Blanc range were newer than the 
rest, being the lowest parts of two folds which have been 
preserved by being nipped in between the crystalline 
masses. The section then received this interpretation. 
The protogine, gneiss and mica schists — the whole crystal- 
line group — were supposed to represent a series of very 
ancient stratified rocks which at some remote and 
unknown date had been rendered crystalline by the 
action of heat, water, and pressure. At a much later 
time, and after considerable disturbance and denudation, 
representatives of the Carboniferous system had been 
deposited upon them. Another pause followed, marked 
by more disturbance and denudation. Then came the 
great subsidence in the Alpine region. This, indeed, 
began in the Trias, but it did not produce its effects in 
some parts till about the age of the Lias. It continued till 
the end of the Eocene, when the crust of the earth was 
affected by the first of the two great sets of movements 
which gave birth to the Alps. Then all the rocks, both 
the older crystalline and the sedimentaries deposited upon 
them, were bent into great parallel folds, rising arches 
alternating with sinking troughs. As the crests of the 
former were forced up, the newer and softer rocks were 
worn away and removed by the various agents of denuda- 
tion, until finally their remnants were preserved only in 
the beds of valleys, while the more durable crystallines 
towered above them in the mountain peaks. So intense 


The Geology of Mont Blanc 

had been the folding that it had bent the coarsest of the 
crystalHne masses (the protogine) back to back in the 
very heart of the range, and the inward dip of the newer 
strata on either side had been produced by the gradual 
" heeling over " of the masses towards the flanks of the 
fold ; this last movement being not improbably due to 
further compression of the region during the time when 
the valleys were actually being excavated. This arrange- 
ment of beds is called Fan structure, because they re- 
semble the sticks in an open fan. We cannot of course 
actually prove that the crystalline rocks, which now form 
the principal part of the Mont Blanc massif, were once 
wholly buried beneath the Secondary and earlier Tertiary 
deposits, I but a study of the geology of the surrounding 
region renders this highly probable, and the general 
correctness of the statement made above is established 
by the following significant fact : — The range imme- 
diately north of the Chamonix valley, as has been already 
said, consists in almost every part of crystalline rocks, 
but on its highest point, the topmost peak of the Aiguilles 
Rouges, \\Q find still remaining a fragment of sedi- 
mentary rock, from fifty to sixty feet thick, which con- 
sists of a thin representative of the Trias covered by 
some Lias. 

But of late years important modifications have been 
made in one part of the above explanation. Formerly it 
was supposed that mica schists, and even gneiss, however 
coarse, were rocks originally stratified, which had been 

' Professor Favre estimates the thickness of the sedimentaries as not less than 
4,100 feet (" Recherches Geologiques . . . voisines du Mont Blanc," § 486). 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

subsequently altered. That is true of many schists, 
including some of the mica schists ; it may also be true 
of some gneisses, but now it is generally agreed that the 
bulk of the latter are directly or indirectly of igneous 
origin. In some the parallel ordering of the constituents 
was caused by movements while the mass was cooling. 
Many of them are granites in which a foliated struc- 
ture has been produced by pressure, followed by cer- 
tain rather slight mineral changes. Even some of the 
mica schists prove to have been formed in this way, 
though after a much more thorough crushing. Thus the 
foliation and apparent bedding in the crystalline rocks of 
the Mont Blanc range is a structure analogous to the 
cleavage of a slate among sedimentaries, and thus has 
been subsequently produced. Hence as most of them are 
igneous in origin, we cannot determine the relative age of 
their members by the apparent succession ; we can only say 
that the crystallines as a whole are very much older than 
the Triassic and even than the Carboniferous strata. The 
so-called protogine has been altogether unlucky in its 
history. The earlier geologists defined it as consisting 
essentially of quartz, felspar and talc. While perhaps it 
would be rash to say that the last-named mineral never 
occurs, it is certain that the ordinary constituent is simply 
a variety of mica. In other words the minerals of the 
protogine are identical with those of granite, but as is 
common in that rock, one at least of them has become 
more or less altered by taking up water. The structure 
also, which is often more or less porphyritic, is that of a 
granite, allowing for the effects of pressure in rounding 


The Geology of Mont Blanc 

the corners of the larger crystals and producing a slight 

Besides this, the name protoglne ("first produced") is 
unfortunate. It was given because this was supposed to 
be the most ancient rock in the whole massif) instead of 
that it can be proved to be intrusive in the gneiss/ what- 
ever the origin of the latter may have been. As to this or 
indeed that of the mica schists of the district, we cannot, 
in the present state of our knowledge, say much. Some 
of these schists may have once been sediments and be 
later in age than the gneisses. Certainly that is true of a 
great group of schists which occur south of the Val de 
Ferret and in many other parts of the Alps, but I am not 
sure that these occur in the range of Mont Blanc itself. 

The making of the existing range, as already said, 
is principally due to two great sets of movements, the one 
at the end of the Eocene, the other closing the Miocene. 
The latter, I believe, acted with its greatest intensity in the 
central and western Alps and in the northern part of them. 
A study of the river system of these regions has led me to 
the conclusion that the Bernese Oberland and the Mont 
Blanc fjiassif owe their present eminence to this second 
movement. If so, there was a time when Mont Blanc, 
though a mountain, was not the monarch ; it is a re- 

' Favre, " Recherches Geologiques . . . voisines du Mont Blanc," § 53S. Jlr. J. 
Eccles, F.G.S., informs me that good examples of intrusion may be seen near the 
north border of the Glacier Rond at the base of the Aiguille du Midi, at the base 
also of the Aiguilles du Plan, de Blaitiere, and du Charmoz ; also in a gully 
descendmg nearly north from the north-west spur of the Aiguille du Tour. In 
addition the relations of the protogine and gneiss may be seen on both sides of 
the Mer de Glace, but here the rocks are not so well exposed. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

presentative of the newer rather than of the older 

We may pass over the history of the sculpture of the 
peaks and passes of the range, for it is similar to that 
of any other great mountain chain, such differences as 
may exist being merely varietal. The forces of nature for 
almost countless years have never ceased to " draw down 
Ionian hills " and to scatter the debris from the moun- 
tains far and wide over the lowlands. The massif of 
Mont Blanc also affords ample evidence that at a time, 
geologically speaking, almost recent, the glaciers were on 
a vastly grander scale than they are at the present day ; 
yet there can be little doubt that even then many of the 
Aiguilles and rocky crests rose far above the snows which 
swathed the less prominent crags and the lower slopes. 
But for this matter also a bare mention is sufficient, for 
the same story may be told of every other district in the 

I. Brevent. 2. Valley of the Arve. 3. Aiguille du Midi. 4. Mont Blanc. 
5. Mont Fret)'. 6. Val Veni. 7. Mont Chetif. 

Dark horizontal shading : alluvium of the two valleys. 
Wide-spaced lines : Jurassic (chiefly). 
Dark vertical shading : mica schist and gneiss. 
Dotted parts : protogine and coarse crystallines. 

" For a discussion of this question see "Alpine Journal," vol. xiv. pp. rii-117. 



Agassiz, L. — A Journey to Switzerland and Pedestrian Tours in that 
country ; including a sketch of its history, and of the manners 
and customs of its inhabitants. London, Smith, Elder & Co., 
1833- 8vo. 

Almer, Christian. — Fuhrerbuch. 1856-1894. Facsimile. London, 

Alpine Journal, The. — A record of Mountain Adventure and 
Scientific Observation. By Members of the Alpine Club, since 
1863. London, Longmans. 8vo. 

Alpinista, L'. — 1874 and 1875. Turin, Candeletti, gr. 8vo. 

Altmann, J. G. — Versuch einer Historischen und Physichen 
Bcschreibung der Helvetischen Eisbergen. Zurich, 1751. 8vo. 

Anderson, E. — Chamouni and Mont Blanc : a Visit to the Valley 
and an Ascent of the Mountain in the Autumn of 1855. London, 
J. Cornish, 1856. 8vo. 

Anonymous. — A Short Account of Mont Blanc and the Valley of 
Chamouni, with an historical sketch of the City of Geneva. 
London, 1817. 

A Tour to Great St. Bernard and round Mont Blanc. 

London, Harvey & Darton, 1827. i2mo. 

Mont Blanc and the Valley of Chamouni. By a Resident 

in the Alps. Vevey, 1855. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Annuaire de la Societe des Touristes du Dauphine. — Grenoble, 
Allier, 1889. 8vo. 

Annuaire du Club Alpin Fra\(?ais, since 1874. Paris, Hachette. 

Arve, Stephen d' (E. de Catelin). — Les Pastes du Mont-Blanc 
Ascensions celebres et Catastrophes, depuis M. de Saussure 
jusqu'a nos jours. Geneve, Veresoff, 1876. 8vo. 

[Atkins, H. M.] — Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc on the 22nd 
and 23rd of August, 1837. London, Calkin & Budd, 1838, 8vo 
(privately printed). Traduction frangaise par Jourdan, Geneve, 
P.-A. Bonnant, impr., 1838. 

AuDiFFRET, L. — La Grande Chartreuse, le Mont-Blanc ct I'Hospice 
du Saint-Bernard. Paris, 1845. 

Auldjo, J. — Narrative of an Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc on 
the 8th and 9th of August, 1827. London, Longmans, 1828. 
Three subsequent editions. 

Badeker, K. — La Suisse et les parties limitrophes de 1' Italic de la 
Savoie et du Tyrol. Leipzig, Badeker, 1891. 18th ed., 8vo. 

Bakewell, R. — Travels, comprising observations made during a 
residence in the Tarentaise and various parts of the Grecian and 
Pennine Alps, and in Switzerland and Auvergne, in the years 
1820, 1 82 1, and 1822. London, Longmans, 1823. 2 vols. 8vo. 

Ball, J. — The Alpine Guide, The Western Alps. London, Long- 
mans, 1877. 8vo. New edition, 1898. 8vo. 

Baretti, M. — II Ghiacciaio del Miage. (Memorie della R. Ace. dellc 
Scienze di Torino, 2^ serie, t. xxxii., 1880.) 

Apergu geologique sur la chainc du Mont-Blanc en rapport 

avec le trajet probable d'un tunnel pour une nouvelle ligne 
de chemin de fer. Turin, Candeletti, 1881. 8vo. (Memoire 
publiee sous les auspices du comite local d'Aoste, promoteur de 
la percee du Mont-Blanc.) 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Baretti, M.— II Monte-Bianco Italiano (art. dans le " Boll. C. A. I.," 

[Barrow, J.J — A Private of the thirty-eighth Artists. Expeditions 
on the Glaciers. Spon, London, 1864. 8vo. 

Barry, M. — Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc in 1834. Edinburgh, 
Blackwood ; London, Cadell, 1836. 8vo. There is also an 
edition of 1835, but not dated, and privately printed. His first 
article appeared in the " Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal," 
I. xviii.. No. 35. 

Baulacre, L. — Analyse des Relations de Windham et Martel(Mercure 
Suisse, tome xxxii., Neuchatel, 1743). i2mo. 

Be.aufoy, Colonel. — First English Ascent of Mont Blanc ("Annals 
of Philosophy," February, 1817). 

Beaumont, J.-F.-A. — Description des Alpes Grecques et Cottienncs, 
ou Tableau Historique de la Savoie. 4 parties en 2 tomes avec 
un Atlas. Paris, A. -A. Renouard, 1806. 

B[ehrens] C[harles]. — Quinze jours au sommet du Mont-Blanc. 
Lausanne, G. Eridcl, 1885. Cr. 8vo. 

Berard, Ed. — Le Mont-Blanc et le Simplon. Consideres comme 
voies Internationales. Avec une lettre de I\L le professeur 
Baretti sur les conditions geologiques du trace Aoste-Chamounix. 
Geneve, Georg, 1880. i2mo. 

Berthout van Berchem, J. -P. — Excursions dans les mines du Haut 
Faucigny. Lausanne, 1787. 

Itineraire de la vallee de Chamonix. Lausanne, J. Mourer, 

1790. i2mo. 

BissoN, M. — Premiere ascension photographique au sommet du Mont- 
Blanc, le 25 juillet 1861. Annecy, 1861. 8vo. 

Bollettino del Club Alpino Italiano, depuis 1865. Torino, 
Candeletti. 8vo. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

BoNNEFOY, J.-A., ET Perrin, A. — Lc Prieure de Chamonix. Docu- 
ments relatif s au Prieure et a la Vallee de Chamonix. Chambery, 
A. Perrin, 1879 et 1883. 2 vols. gr. 8vo. 

B[0RDIER, A. C] — Voj^age Pitoresque (sic) aux Glacieres de Savoye. 
Fait en 1772. Geneve, L.-A. Caille, 1773. i2mo. 

BouRRiT, M. T. — Description des Glacieres, Glaciers et Amas de glace 
du Duche de Savoye. Geneve, Bonnant, 1773, i2mo. (Traduc- 
tion anglaise, i ed. par C. et F. Davy, Norwich, R. Beatniffe, 
1775, i6mo ; 2^ ed., id. 1776 ; 3= ed. par. R. Cross, Dublin, 1776, 

Description des aspects du Mont-Blanc du cote de la Val- 

d'Aoste. Lausanne, Societe typographique, 1776. 8vo. 

Description des Alpes Pennines et Rhetiennes. Geneve, J. -P. 

Bonnant, 1781. 2 vols. 8vo. Une nouvelle edition en 3 vols. 
8\o, a paru d Geneve chez Paul Barde, 1785, sous le titre : 
Nouvelle description Generale et Particuliere des Glacieres, 
Vallees de Glace et Glaciers, qui forment la grande chaine des 
Alpes de Suisse, d'ltalie et de Savoye. II existe aussi une 
traduction allemande de la i ed. Zurich, Orell, Gessner, 
Fuesslin et Cie, 1782. 8vo. 

Itineraire, de Geneve, Lausanne et Chamouni ; i ed. 1791, 

2* ed. 1792, la 3" ed. a paru en 1808 sous lc titre : Itineraire de 
Geneve, des Glaciers de Chamouni, du Valais et du canton de 

Description des Cols ou Passages des Alpes. Geneve, J. 

Manget, 1803. 2 vols. 8vo. (Reproduction partielle des 
oeuvres auterieures du meme auteur.) 

Bravais, A.-Lb. — Mont-Blanc ou description de la Vue des 
Phenomenes que Ton peut apercevoir du sommet. Paris, 
A. Bertrand [1854]. i2mo. 

Briquet, A. — Les ascensions d'un professeur [Prof. Tyndall] ; article 

dans la " Bibliotheque universelle" et "Revue Suisse," 1864. 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Briquet et Maquelin. — Ascensions du Mont-Rose et du Mont-Blanc 
(extrait du "Journal dc Geneve," 1863). Geneve, 1864. 8vo. 

[Browne, G. F.] — How we did Mont Blanc (article in the "Cornhill 
Magazine," June, 1865). 

Off the Mill. Some occasional papers. London, 1895. 

Browxk, J. D. H. — Ten Scenes in the Last Ascent of Mont Blanc. 
London, 1853. Folio. ^f^ 

Buckingham, J. S. — Belgium, the Rhine, Switzerland and Holland, 
London, Peter Jackson (without date, but about 1847). 2 vols. 

Bulletin du Club Alpix Belge, depuis 1883. Bruxelles. 

Bulletin du Club Alpix Franqais, depuis 1874. Paris, Chamerot 
et Renouard, imp. 8vo. 

Bulletin de la Section Lyonnaise du Club Alpin Fran?ais, 
depuis 1878. Lyon, Pitrat aine, puis Mougin-Rusand, imp. 7 
vols. 8vo. 

BuLOW, O. VON. — Repertorium und Ortsregistcr fur die Jahrbiichcr L 
bis XX. des S. A. C. Bern. Schmid Francke et Cie, 1886. 8vo. 

BULWER, J. R. — Extracts from my Journal (Mont Blanc, etc.). 
Norwich, 1853. 8vo. (Privately printed.) 

BuRFORD, R. — Description of a view of Mont Blanc, the Valley of 
Chamounix, and the surrounding mountains, now exhibiting at 
the Panorama, Leicester Square. London, 1838. 8vo. 

BuRNABY, Mrs. F. — The High Alps in Winter ; or. Mountaineering 
in Search of Health. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1883. Svo. 
{See also Mrs. Main.) 

Cambray-Digny, Comte T. de. — Monte Bianco. Ode italienne relative 
a une ascension au Mont-Blanc faite en 1877. Florence, 1879. 
Svo. Traduction anglaise par S. Fenzi, Florence, 1879. 8vo. 

Carelli de Rocca Castello, Jacques. — Une ascension au Mont- 
Blanc, Varallo, chez la veuve Caligaris, 1843. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Carnes, J, — Letters from Switzerland and Italy, during a late Tour. 
London, R. Bentley, 1834. 8vo. 

Carrier, Michel. — Notice biographique sur Jacques Balmat dit 
Mont-Blanc. Geneve, 1854. 

Ceresole, a. — Chamonix et le Mont-Blanc. Zurich, Orell Fiissli et 
Cie, 1888, broch. 8vo. 

Chaffard. — Petit guide du touriste a Geneve, Chamonix, et Grand 
Saint-Bernard. Geneve, Gruaz, 1866. i6mo. 

Chambers' Repository, 1854. — Mont Blanc and its Glaciers. 

Chateaubriaxd, F.-A. de. — Le Mont-Blanc. Paris, Ladvocat, 1827 
(OEuvres completes, tome vii., 299 et sq. 8vo.) 

Cheever, G. B.— The Pilgrim in the Shadow^ of the Jungfrau Alp 
London and Glasgow [1846], Collins. 8vo. Subsequent editions 
are entitled Wanderings of a Pilgrim in the Shadow of Mont 
Blanc and the Jungfrau Alp. 

C[hexal], Dr. G. — Ascension au Mont-Blanc. Bonneville, 1844. 

Clark, E. and Sherwill, M. — Narrative of an Excursion to the 
Summit of Mont Blanc (articles in the " New Monthly 
Magazine," 1826, pp. 434-449, 590-600 ; 1827, pp. 289-295). 

Clissold, F. — Narrative of an Ascent to the Summit of j\Iont Blanc, 
August i8th, 1822. London, Rivingtons, 1823. 8vo. 

C[lowes], G., Jun. — Forty-six Days in Switzerland and the North of 
Italy. London, at W. Clowes and Son, 1856. 8vo. 

CocKBURN, Major. — Swiss Scenery. London, 1820. Royal 8vo. 

Colemax, E. T. — Scenes from the Snow- Fields ; being Illustrations 
of the Upper Ice World of Mont Blanc. London, Longmans, 
1859. Folio. 

Coleridge, S. — Hymn before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni. 
(" Morning Post" of September 11, 1802). 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

CoLGAN, N. — Up and around Mont Blanc (" Irish MonthW," January 
and Fcbruar}', i^ 

CoLLADOX, D. — Notes sur les inconvenients et|les difficultes du tunnel 
etudie sous le Mont-Blanc et de ses lignes d'acces projetees ; 
avantages incontestables d'un chemin de fer international par le 
Simplon. Geneve, Georg, 1880. 8vo. 

Seconde notice sur la question Simplon ou Mont-Blanc, 

Reponse a une lettre publiee par M. Ic Senateur Charton. 
Geneve, Georg, 1880. 8vo. 

Combe, Ed. — Index des vingt-cinq premieres annees de I'Echo des 
Alpes, 1865-1889. Geneve, Wyss et Duchene, imp., 1892. 8vo. 

CooLiDGE, W. A. B. — Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books. London, 
1889, Longmans. 8vo. 

Corona, G. — Mont-Blanc ou Simplon (affaire du tunnel projete ; 
extrait du recueil anglais Minerva pour mars, 1880). Rome, 
Capaccini et Ripamonti, 1880. 8vo. 

CouTTET, J. M. — Chamonix, le Mont-Blanc, Conrmayeur, et le Grand 
Saint-Bernard. Geneve, 1851. i2mo. 

CoxE, W. — Travels in Switzerland. London, 1789. T. Cadell, 
3 vols. Traduction frangaise, Paris. Letellier, 1790, 3 vols. 8vo. 

CuxNiXGHAM, C. D. — An Ascent of Mont Blanc in January (" The 
World" of March i, 1882). 

CuxxiNGHAM, C. D. AND Abney, W. DE W. — The Pioneers of the 
Alps. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1887. 4to (2nd edition, 1888). 

Gust, A. — Mont Blanc without a Guide (" Chambers' Journal," 
August 12, 1876). 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Dalgas, A.-A. — Un ascensione del Monte-Bianco pel versante italiano 
(article dans " Rossegna di Alpinismo," edite par F. Carega di 
Muricce a Rocca San Casciano, pres Florence, 2e annee, 1880, 
pp. 267-270). 

Daudet, A. — Tartarin sur les Alpes. Paris, Calmann Levy, 1885. 8vo. 

Dechy, M. von. — Zur Gcschichte der Mont-Blanc Besteigungen. 
(Mittheilungen des Deutschen und Oestcrreichischen Alpen- 
vercins, 1875.) 

Delatre, L. M. J. L. — Geneve, Chamonix, et le Mont-Blanc, ou voyage 
descriptif et pittoresque dans les Hautes-Alpes. Paris, Curmer, 
1846. 4to. 

Delcros, Le Commaxdaxt. — Altitude du Mont-Blanc et du Mont- 
Rose. Versailles, 1851. 8vo. 

Dell'Oro di Giosue, L. — Ascensione al Monte Bianco per il versante 
italiano et discesa per il versante francese. Milan, Angelli, 1875, 
broch. gr. 8vo. 

Deluc, J. -A. — Recherches sur les Modifications de I'Atmosphere. 
Geneve, 1772, 2 vols. 4to. (Simple mention du Mont-Blanc: 
V. note, p. 115 du Guide.) 

Dext, C. T. — Above the Snow-line : Mountaineering sketches 
between 1870 and 1880. London, Longman, 1885. 8vo. 

Depraz, C. — Un sauvetage au Mont-Blanc. Annecy, 1866. 

D[esmousseaux] G[ivre] G. — Une ascension au Mont-Blanc. 
(" Revue Britannique," Janvier, 1870. pp. 97-118.) 

Desor, E. — Excursions et Sejours dans les Glaciers et les Hautes 
Regions des Alpes, de M. Agassiz et de ses compagnons de 
voyage. Neuchatel, J. -J. Kissling ; Paris, J. Maison, 1844. 8vo. 

The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Desor, E. — Nouvelles Excursions ct Sejours dans Ics Glaciers ct Ics 
Hautes Regions des Alpes, de M. Agassiz et de ses compagnons 
de voyage. Accompagnees d'unc notice sur les glaciers de TAllec 
Blanche et du Val Ferret par M. Agassiz, et d'un apercu sur la 
structure gcologiquc des Alpes, par M. B. Studer. Ncuchatel, 
J. -J. Kissling ; Paris, J. Maison, 1845. 8vo. 

Dewey, O. — The Old World and the New. A Journal. London, 
Fox, 1836. 2 vols. 24mo. 

Dixon, W. Hepworth. — The Switzcr. London, Hurst & Blackett, 
1872. 2 vols. 8vo. 

DOBLOFF, J. — Der Mont-Blanc, eine topographisch-historische Skisse 
mit Beriicksichtigung der neuesten Litteratur. Vienne, 1880. 

DoLLFUS, AussET. — Materiaux pour I'Etude des Glaciers. Paris, 
F. Savy, 1864-1870, 8 vol. gr. in-8 et supplement ; atlas, 1872. 

DoN'couRT, A.-S. de. — Le Mont-Blanc et ses Explorations. Lille et 
Paris, 1887, J. Lcfort, petit in-4 (voir A. J. XIIL, p. 430 ct43i). 

Dowsing, W. — Rambles in Switzerland. Kingston-upon-Hull, J. W. 
Leng ; London, Adams & Co., 1869. 8vo. 

Dubois, A. — Croquis Alpins, Promenades en Suisse et au Pays des 
Dolomites. Lausanne, Benda, 1883. i2mo. 

DucoMMUN, J.-C. — Une Excursion au Mont-Blanc, 2" ed. Geneve 
et Bale, H. Georg, 1859. Brochure, 8vo. 

DuFOUR, El. — Les Grimpeurs des Alpes (traduction partielle de la 
i'^^ serie des Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers). Paris, 1862, Levy. 

Dumas, A. — Impressions de voyage en Suisse. 2* ed., tome 
Paris, Dumont, 1837. 8vo. 

Du Pays, A.-J. — Une ascension au Mont-Blanc en 1859 (tentative 
d'ascension par les freres Bisson ; article dans " 1' Illustration," 
t86o, p. 15 et 16). Paris, Firmin Didot, imp. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

DURIER, C. — Le Mont-Blanc. Paris, Fischbacher, 1877, gr. in-8 ; 
2* ed., id., 1880, in-i2 ; 3^ ed., id., 1881, in-12 ; 4' ed., id., 
1897, in-12. 

Ebel, J.-G. — Anleitung auf die niitzlichste und genussvollste Art die 
Schweitz zu bereisen, T' ed., Zurich, 1793, 2 vols, petit 8vo ; 
seconde et derniere ed., Zurich, Orell Fiissli et Cie, 1843, i vol. 
Traduction frangaise sous le titre : Manuel du Voyageur en 
Suisse, 3^ ed. Geneve, Paschoud, 1818, 3 vols, petit 8vo. 

Echo des Alpes. — Publication des Sections Romandes du Club 
Alpin Suisse, depuis 1865. Geneve, Jullien. 8vo (Voir aussi 
Combe, Ed.) 

English, Rev. E. — An Ascent of Mont Blanc, in 1885 ("The 
Month," Sept., 1885). 

Falcoxnet, l'Abbe J. — Une Ascension au Mont-Blanc et Etude 
Scientifique sur cette montagne. Annecy, Nierat, imp., 1887. 

Favre, a. — Recherches Geologiques dans les parties de la Savoie, 
du Piemont et de la Suisse voisines du Mont-Blanc. Paris, 
Victor Masson et fils, 1867. 3, avec Atlas (v. surtout 
la liste decartes du massif du Mont-Blanc, vol. iii., pp. 533-546). 

Fellows, C. — Narrative of the Ascent to the Summit of Mont 
Blanc. London, 1827. 4to. (Privately printed.) 

Ferraxd, H. — Promenades, autour du Mont-Blanc. Paris, Fisch- 
bacher, 1886. 8vo. 

Five Ladies. — Swiss Notes. Leeds, 1875. 8vo. 

Floyd, C. G. — An Ascent of Mont Blanc (" Eraser's Magazine," 
June, 1855). 

Forbes, Dr. John. — A Phj-sician's Holiday, or a Month in Switzer- 
land in the Summer of 1848. London, J. Murray, 1849; 2nd 
edition, 1850. 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Forbes, J. D. — Travels through the Alps of Savoy and other parts of 
the Pennine Chain, with Observations on the Phenomena of 
Glaciers. Edinburgh, Black ; London, Longmans, 1843, 8vo ; 
2nd ed. 1845. 

Norway and its Glaciers visited in 1851 ; followed by Journals 

of Excursions in the High Alps of Dauphine, Berne, and Savoy. 
Edinburgh, Black, 1853, 8vo. (German Translation by E. A. 
Zuchold. Leipzig, A. Abel, 1855. 8vo.) 

The Tour of Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa (Short account from 

the Alps of Savoy). Edinburgh, Black, 1855. 8vo. 

On the Geological Relations of the Secondary and Primary 

Rocks of the Chain of Mont Blanc (with plate). Edinburgh, 
1856. (Extract from " Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal.") 

Pedestrianism in Switzerland ("Quarterly Review" for 1857, 

pp. 285-323). 

Notice respecting Mr. Reilly's Topographical Survey of the 

Chain of Mont Blanc. Edinburgh, 1865. 8vo. (Extract from 
Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.) 

The Topography of the Chain of Mont Blanc (" North British 

Review," March, 1865, pp. 137-157). 

Life and Letters. By J. C. Shairp, P. G. Tait, and A. Adams- 

Reilly. London, Macmillan, 1873. 8vo. 

Fores' Sporting Notes, January, 1889. A Muff on a Mountain, or 
How we did Mont Blanc. 

Freshfield, D. W. — Across Country from Thonon to Trent : Rambles 
and Scrambles in Switzerland and t,he Tyrol. London, 1865. 
8vo. (Privately printed.) 

Galton, E. — Article on his ascent of Mont Blanc, from " Illustrated 
London News " of February y, 1851. 

305 X 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Gamet, a. — Du Mont- Blanc au Pelvoux, Lyon, Mougin-Rusand, imp, 

Gardner, J. D. — Ascent and Tour of Mont Blanc, and Passage of the 
Col du Geant between Sept. 2nd and 7th, 1850. Chiswick, 1851. 
1 2 mo. 

Gautier, Th. — Les Vacances du Lundi, Tableaux de Montagnes. 
Paris, G. Charpentier, 1881. 8vo. 

Giordano, F. — Ascensione del Monte Bianco partendo dal versante 
italiano. Turin, Cotta e Capelloni, 1864. 8vo. 

Giornale delle Alpi. — Turin, 1864. 

GiRDLESTONE, A. G., The Rev. — The High Alps without Guides : 
being a Narrative of Adventures in Switzerland, together with 
Chapters on the Practicability of such Mode of Mountaineering, 
and Suggestions for its Accomplishment. London, Longmans, 
1870. 8vo. 

Glover, Samuel. — A Description of the Valley of Chamouni in 
Savoy. London, 1821. Subsequent editions. 

GcETHE, J. W. — Briefe aus der Schweiz aus dcm Jahre 1779 (publiees 
en 1808 dans le vol. ii. de scs oeuvres). Traduction frangaise 
par Porchat. Paris, Hachette et Cie, 1862, tome ix., gr. 8vo. 
Voir aussi Magasin Pittoresque. Paris, J. Best, imp., i86o, 
pp. 227-230, gr. 8vo. 

GoTTSCHALK, F. — Das Chamounithal am Fusse des Mont-Blanc, 

Halle, 1811. 

Gkuner, G. S. — Die Eisgebirge des Schweizerlandes. Berne, 1760, 
3 vol. in-8 (v. tome i, chap, viii,), Une revision de I'edition 
allemande a ete publiee a Londres (= Berne), en 1778, sous le 
titre : Reisen durch die merkwiirdigsten Gegenden Helvetiens, 
2 vol, in-8. — Une traduction libre, en fran^ais, par M. de Keralio 
a paru sous le titre : Histoire naturelle des Glaciers dela Suisse. 
Paris, Pankoucke, 1770, i vol. in 4to. 

The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Guide e Portatori ed Escursioxi da essi compiute. Torino, 
Candelctti, 1889, broch. in- 12. 

GiJssFELDT, P. — Article sur son ascension aux Grandes-J Grasses, le 14 
Janvier 1891 ("Deutsche Rundsciiau," Berlin, 1891, tome xviii.) 

Der Mont Blanc. Studien im Hochgebirge, vornehmlich in der 

Mont Blanc, Gruppe. Paetel. Berlin, 1894. 

Hamel, J. VON. — Reisen auf den Mont-Blanc in August 1820. Bale, 
1820, Neukirch, in-12 (traduction de Particle du n° d'aout 1820 
de la " Bibliothequc universelle," Geneve, Paschoud, intitulee : 
Relation des deux tentatives recentes pour monter sur le Mont- 
Blanc, par M. le docteur Hamel). Un extrait de cet article, 
publiee en anglais par J. D[ornford], a paru dans le "New 
Monthly Magazine" de 1821 sous le titre : Mont-Blanc, et un 
extrait en anglais de I'article frangais de 1820, dans les " Annals 
of Philosophy," de Janvier 1821. Un recit de 1' accident se trouve 
dans " The Peasants of Chamouni," London, Baldwin, Cradock, 
and Joy, 1823 (v. Alb. Smith, " Story of Mont Blanc," p. i). 

Beschreibung zweyer Reisen auf den Mont-Blanc untcrnommen 

im August 1820. Vienne, C. Gerold, 1821, in-8 (extrait du Con- 
versations Blatt). • 

H.AWEs, B. — Narrative of an Ascent to the Summit of Mont Blanc, 
made during the Summer of 1827 by W. Hawes and C. Fellows. 
1828. 4to. (Privately printed.) 

H[evat], K[irkwood].— My Diary. Notes of a Continental Tour, 
1878. (Privately printed.) 

HiNCHLlFF, T. W.— Summer Months Among the Alps : with the 
Ascent of Monte Rosa. London, Longman, 1857. 8vo. 

and Walters, R.— Poaching on Mont Blanc (" Eraser's Maga- 
zine" for July, i{ 

HoRT, F. J. A.— Life and Letters. 2 vols. London, 1896. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Howard, W. — First American Ascent of Mont Blanc ("Analectic 
Magazine," May, 1820) ; also Narrative of a Journey to the Summit 
of Mont Blanc in July, 1819. Baltimore, 1821 (v. Van Rensselaer). 

HuBER, W. — Le Massif du Mont-Blanc (Bulletin de la Societe de 
Geographie de Paris, 1868). 

Hudson, C, and Kennedy, E. S. — Where there's a Will there's a Way : 
an Ascent of Mont Blanc by a New Route and without Guides. 
1st edit, London, Longman, 1856, 8vo; 2nd edit, (with additions) 
same year. 

Jackson, H. H. — A Narrative of an Ascent to the Summit of Mont 
Blanc, Sept. 4, 1823 (" New Monthly Magazine," 1827, pp. 458- 

Jahrbuch des Schweizer Alpen Club, depuis 1864. Berne, 
Schmid Francke et Cie. 8vo. (Voir aussi BuLOW, O. von.) 

Janssen, J. — Ascension scientifique du Mont-Blanc (article dans les 
"Comptes rendus de I'Academie des sciences," tome cxi., no. 12, 
du 22 Sept. 1890, et extrait de cet article dans " La Nature," 
no. du 27 septembre 1890. Paris, G. Masson, gr. 8vo). 

Javelle, E. — Souvenirs d'un alpiniste. Lausanne, Payot, 1886. 8vo. 
2nd ed., 1892. 

Joanne, A. — Geographic du departement de la Haute-Savoie. Paris, 
Hachette et Cie, 1879. i8mo. 

La Suisse, Chamonix et les Vallees Italiennes. Paris, Hachette 

et Cie, 1889. 8vo. 

Jones, Harry. — The Regular Swiss Round. London, Strahan & Co., 
1865. i2mo. 2nd edition, 1868. 

Lalande, J. — Voyage au Mont-Blanc (" Magasin encyclopedique," 
tome iv. Paris, 1796. 8vo). 

Latour (les freres). — Guide pratique du voyageur en Suisse et dans 
la vallee de Chamouni. Paris. Vernay, 1873. 32mo. 

The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

La Vallee, J. — Voyage dans le departement du Mont-Blanc. Paris, 
1793. i2mo. 

Leisure Hour, Nos. of 21st and 28tli July, 1853. A Climb to the 
Highest Point in Europe. 

Lemercier, Abel. — Ascensions au Mont-Rose et au Mont-Blanc : 
Excursion de quinzaine d'un Parisien (" Bulletin de la Societe 
generale de Geographic, juillet 1873). Paris, Delagrave tirage 
a part. 

Le Mesurier, W. H. — An Impromptu Ascent of Mont Blanc. 
London, Elliot Stock, 1882. 8vo. 

Le Pays. — Nouvelles oeuvres de M. le Pays. Amsterdam, 1674, 
in-i2, 2* part., p. 124 et sq. (contient une lettre tres curieux 
datee de Chamony en Fossigny, le 16 may 1669 ; v. aussi E. d. A. 
1879, p. 20 ; Ann. C. A. F., 1890, p. 26-29). 

Leschevin, p. X. — Voyage a Geneve et dans la vallee de Chamoun 
en Savoie. Paris et Geneve, 1812. 8vo. 

Levasseur, E. — Les Alpes et les grandes ascensions. Paris, Dela- 
grave, 1889, gr. 8vo. 

Liddiard, W. — A Three Months' Tour in Switzerland and France, 
with a Route to Chamouni, the Bernese Alps, etc. London, 
Smith, Elder & Co., 1832. 8vo. 

LocHON, N. — Recit d'une ascension au Mont-Blanc. Thonon, 
Dubouloz, imp. 8vo. 

LoMMEL, G. T. — Simplon et Mont-Blanc. Examen de la brochure 
de M. le senateur Charton, intitulee : Le Percement du Mont- 
Blanc. Lausanne, Rouge et Dubois, 1879. 8vo. 

Longman, W. — Modern Mountaineering (appendix to vol. viii. of the 
" Alpine Journal.") 

L[ongman], W. and T[rower]. H. — Journal of Six Weeks' Adven- 
tures in Switzerland, Piedmont, and on the Italian Lakes, June, 
July, August, 1856. London, Longman. 8vo. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

LORTET, M. L., Deux ascensions au Mont-Blanc. Paris, Masson, 

Lusi, LE COMTE DE. — Voyagc sur Ic Mont-Blanc, enterpris le 15 
septembre, 1816. Vienne, 1816. i2mo. 

Magasin' Pittoresque pour 1856. Le Mont-Blanc, ascension de 
1786. Paris, J. Best, gr. 8vo. 

1875. Ascension de TAiguille Vertc, p. 28-30. Recit abrege 

de I'ascension de E. Whymper, d'apres la traduction de A. 

Maix, Mrs. — High Life and Towers of Silence. London, Sampson 
Low, 1886. 8vo. (See also Burxaby.) 

Mallet-Duplax. — Journal historique et politique de Geneve, 1787. 

Manget, J.-L. — Chamonix, le Mont-Blanc et les deux Saint-Bernards. 
4th ed. Geneve, Gruaz, 1850. i2mo. 

Itineraire du voyage a Chamouny, autour du Mont-Blanc, aux 

deux Saint-Bernards, autour du lac de Geneve, dans la vallee de 
Sixt, etc. 1845 ; 2e ed. i6mo. Get ouvrage a paru en allemand 
a Aarau, 1829, petit i6mo. 

Martel, P. — Relation d'un Voyage aux glacieres du Faucigny en 
1742, publiee par T. Dufour dans " I'Echo des Alpes," 1879 
(pour I'edition anglaise, voir sous Wixdham). 

Martixs, C.— Recherches sur la periode glaciaire et I'ancienne exten- 
sion des Glaciers du Mont-Blanc, depuis les Alpes jusqu'au Jura 
(" Revue des Deux-Mondes," livraison du i mars 1847). 

Deux ascensions au Mont Blanc et etudes de meteorologie 

et d'histoire naturelle (" Revue des Deux-Mondes," livraison du 
15 mars 1865). 

Du Spitzberg au Sahara. Paris, 1866. 

Geologic du Massif du Mont-Blanc (" Revue des Deux-Mondes," 

livraison du i mai 1868). 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

MARTIN'S, Bravais et Le Pileur. — Rapport officiel (" Moniteur uni- 
versel," 1844). 

M[artyn], T[homas]. — Sketch of a Tour through Swisserland, 1787. 

A Short Account of an Expedition to the Summit of Mont 

Blanc by M. de Saussure of Geneva in August last (appendice 
a I'ouvrage precedent dont la preface est signee T. M.). London, 
G. Kearsley, 1788. i2mo, 

Mathews, C. E. — The Annals of Mont Blanc ; a monograph. With a 
geological chapter by Professor Bonney. London, T. Fisher 
Unwin, 1898. 8vo. 

[Matzewski, lr comte]. — Letter addressed to Professor Pictet, de- 
scriptive of ascents to the Summit of the South Needle of 
Chamouni and to that of Mont Blanc (" Blackwood's Magazine," 
November, 1818, pp. 180 and 181). 

Meckel, C. de. — Relation d'un voyage a la cime du Mont-Blanc. 
Bale, 1790. 

Meiners, C. — Briefe iiber die Schweiz. Berlin, C. Spener, 1788-1790. 
4 vols. 8vo (v. surtout tome iv.). 

Meurer, J. — Der Mont-Blanc. Vienne. Spiess. (Osterreichische 
Alpen-Zeitung, 1880 et tirage a part.) 

Mittheilun'gen des Deutschen u.\d Oesterreichischen Alpen- 
VEREINS, depuis 1875. Munich, Frankfort et Vienne. 

MoDONi, A. — II Faucigny : Ricordi Alpini. Bologne, 1878. 8vo. 

MoORE, A. W. — The Alps in 1864. A private journal. London, 1867. 
Svo. (Privately printed.) 

MOULINIE, C. E. F. — Promenades Philosophiques et Religieuses aux 
environs du Mont-Blanc. Geneve, Sestie, imp. Paris, Scherff, 
1817. i2mo. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

MuLLER, Dr. C. — Ascent of Mont Blanc by Mile. d'Angeville ("New 
Monthly Magazine," Nov., 1840). 

Murray, J. — Handbook for Travellers in Switzerland. Vol. H. The 
Alps of Savoy and Piedmont, i8th edition. London, Murray, 
1 891. 8vo, 

Neue Alpenpost. — Spezial Organ, fiir Alpenkunde, Touristik, etc. 
Zurich, Orell Fiissli et Cie, 1876-1882, gr. in 4to. 

New Game of the Ascent of Mont Blanc, The. London, Egyptian 
Hall (v. A. J. xiv., p. 62). 

Noel, B. W. — Notes of a Tour in Switzerland, in the Summer of 
1847. London, J. Nisbet & Co., 1848. 8vo. 

Oesterreichische Alpen-Zeitung, depuis 1879. Vienne. Holz- 
hausen, gr. in 8vo. 

Oliver, L. — L'ascension du Mont-Blanc par un Touriste (" La Na- 
ture," livraison du 4 octobre 1890. Paris, Masson, gr. in 8vo. 

Oxley, T. L. — Jacques Balmat, or the First Ascent of Mont Blanc. 
London, 1881. 8vo. 

Paccard, M. — Premier voyage fait a la cime de la plus haute mon- 
tagne du continent. Lausanne, 1786. 8vo. 

Parlatore, F. — Viaggio alia catena del Monte Bianco. Florence, 

Payot, V. — Temperature de la riviere d'Arve, des sources et des 
torrents de la Vallec de Chamounix, observee pendant les annees 
1855, 1856, et une partie de 1857. 

Catalogue des Fougeres, Preles et Lycopodiacees des environs 

du Mont-Blanc. Geneve, Cherbuliez, i860. 8vo. 

Erpetologie, Malacologie et Paleontologie des environs du Mont- 
Blanc ou Description Historique des Reptiles et Enumeration, 
des Coquilles vivantes et fossiles ; 1865, gr. in 8vo. 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Payot, V. — Florule de la Vallee de la Mer de Glace, 1868. 

Oscillations des quatre grands glaciers de la vallee de Chamonix 

et enumeration des ascensionnistes au Mont-Blanc. ler ed. 
Lausanne, 1867, in-12 ; 2e ed. Geneve, J. Sandoz, 1879 (avec 
la liste des ascensionnistes qui ont gravi le Mont-Blanc depuis 
Chamonix, de 1786 au 24 juillet 1879). 

Geologie et Mineralogie des environs du Mont-Blanc, Geneve, 

Georg, 1873. 8vo. 

Guide au Mont-Blanc et dans les vallees comprises entre les 

deux Saint-Bernards et le lac de Geneve. Geneve, Burkhardt, 
1885. 8vo. 

Guide du botaniste au Jardin de la Mer de Glace, ou Premiere 

notice sur la vegetation de la region des neiges. 

Deuxieme notice sur la vegetation de la region des neiges ou 

Flore des Grands-Mulets. 

Troisieme notice sur la vegetation de la region des neiges ou 

florule de la vallee de la Mer de Glace. 

Catalogue des principales plantes qui croissent sur la Chaine du 

Mont-Blanc. 40 pp. in-4, imprime d'un seul cote. 

Catalogue phylostatique des plantes cryptogames cellulaircs qui 

croissent dans un rayon de 200 kilometres autour du Mont- 
Blanc (Guide du Lichenologue). 

Enumeration des mousses rares, nouvelles et peu connues des 

environs du Mont- Blanc, suivie de la liste des Diatomees de la 
vallee de Chamonix (Bull, de la Soc. botanique de France). 

Observations thermometriques et meteorologiques sur la Vallee 

de Chamounix. 

Catalogue de la serie des roches et des mineraux de la Chaine 

du Mont-Blanc et du massif des terrains composant la nature 
geologique des montagnes comprises dans un rayon de 200 kilo- 
metres autour de cette chaine. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Payot, v. — La Flore de I'excursionniste au Mont-Blanc. 

Florule du Mont-Blanc. Guide du botaniste et du touriste 

dans les Alpes Pennines. Phanerogrames, Paris, Sandoz et 
Thuilier, 1882. i2mo. 

Description petrographique des roches, des terrains cristallins 

primaires et sedimentaires du massif de la chaine du Mont-Blanc. 
Geneve, Stapelmohr, 1885. i2mo. 

Peaks, Passes axd Glaciers. — A Series of Excursions by Members 
of the Alpine Club. ist series, London, Longman, 1859, 8vo 
(for the French translation see Dufour) ; 2nd series, London, 
Longman, 1862, 2 vols. 8vo. 

Perrix, a. — Histoire de la Vallee et du Prieure de Chamonix. 
Chambery, Perrin, 1887. 8vo. 

Philips, F. — A Reading Party in Switzerland, with an account of 
the Ascent of Mont Blanc on the 12th and 13th of August, 1851. 
Manchester, 1851 (privately printed). 

PiACHAUD, LE Dr. — Unc asccnsion au Mont-Blanc en 1864 (" Biblio- 
theque universelle" et " Revue Suisse," 1865, pp. 66-106, Geneve, 
1865. 8vo. 

PiCTET, J. P. — Nouvel Itineraire des vallees autour du Mont-Blanc. 
Geneve, 1818, petit 8vo ; 1" ed., 1829. 

Une course a Chamonix, Paris, 1838. 

PiTSCHNER, W. — Der Mont-Blanc, Darstellung der Besteigung des- 
selben, am 31 JuH, i and 2 August, 1859. Berlin, i860, in 8vo. 
2™« ed. Geneve, Pitschner, 1864. 

Le Mont-Blanc. Deuxieme ascension scientifique du 30 aoiit 

16 septembre, i86r. Relation sommaire par E. de Catelin, 
Annecy, 1861. 8vo. 

Putnam's Magazixe, October, 1868. Up and down Mont Blanc. 
London and New York. 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Raffles, Thomas. — Letters during a Tour through some parts o 
France, Savoy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands in 
the Summer of 1817. Liverpool, Th. Taylor, 2nd edition, 1819. 

Raoul-Rochette, D. — Voyage pittoresque dans la Vallee de 
Chamonix et autour du Mont-Blanc. Paris, 1826. 4to. 

Lettres sur la Suisse, ecrites en 1819, 1820 et 182 1, 4^ ed. Paris, 

Neveu, 1828. 3 vols. 4to (v. tome ii., chap, xxviii). 

Ratti, C. et Casaxova, F. — Guida illustrata dclla Valle d'Aosta, 2^ 
ed. Turin, Casanova, 1889. Svo. 

Reglemext et Tarif de la Compagxie des Guides de Chamoxix. 
Bonneville, F. Detruche, imp., 1890, broch. in 24mo. 

Rexdu, le chaxoixe (plus tard eveque d'Annecy). — Theorie des 
Glaciers de Savoie. Chambery, Puthod, 1840 (translated into 
English by Mr. Alfred Wills. London, Macmillan, 1874). 

Rexsselaer,- J. Vax. — First American Ascent of Mont Blanc ("Ameri- 
can Journal of Sciences and Arts," April, 1820, New Haven). 

RivisTA Alpixa Italiaxa del Club Alpixo Itallaxo, 1882-4. 
Turin, Candeletti. 4to. 

RivisTA Mexsile del Club Alpixo Italiaxo, depuis 1885. Turin, 
Candeletti. Svo. 

RusKix, J. — A Walk in Chamouni (" Friendship's Offering." London, 
1S44. Svo). 

Mont Blanc ("Keepsake for 1846." London, 1845, Svo), 

Modern Painters, vol. iv. London, 1856. 4to). 

Saxt' Axgelo, G. L di. — Premiere ascension italienne au Mont 
Blanc (" Le Federal," no. du 4 sept. 1840, Geneve). 

Saussure, H. B. de. — Voyage dans les Alpes, 4 vol. in-4 : vol. i., 
Neuchatel, Fauche, 1779 ; vol ii., Geneve, Bardc et Manget, 
1786 ; vol. iii. et iv, Neuchatel, Fauche-Borel, 1796. 

The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Saussure, Hexri de.— Voyage dans les Alpes Partie Pittoresque, i" 
ed. Paris, 1834 ; 4= ed. Paris, Fischbacher, 1880. i2mo. 

Discours prononce a I'Assemblee Generale du C. A S. (V. 

compte-rendu de la reunion des Clubs Alpins a Geneve, 1-4 
aoiit 1879). Geneve, Jullien et H. George, 1880. 8vo. 

ScHEUCHZER, J. -J. — Natur-Historie des Schweitzerlandes : Part I. 
Helvetiae Stoicheiographia, Orographia et Oreographia. Zurich, 
Bohmische Druckerei, 1716, in-4 ; 2^ ed., Zurich, 1752. 

ScHUTZ WiLSOX, H. — Alpine Ascents and Adventures ; or Rock and 
Snow Sketches. London, Sampson Low, 1878. 

ScHWEiZER Alpen-Zeituxg. — Organ fiir die Deutschen sectionen 
der Schweizer Alpenclubs depuis 1883. Zurich, Schulthess, gr. 

Shelley, P. B. — History of a Six Weeks' Tour, 1817. Mont Blanc, 
a Poem. 

Sherwill, M. — A Visit to the Summit of Mont Blanc, 25th, 26th, and 
27th August, 1825 (three articles and letters to the " New 
Monthly Magazine" for 1826, pp. 533-541 ; 1827, pp. 40-47, 150- 
155). There is also a French translation : "Ascension du Dr. 
Edmond Clark et du cap. Markham Sherwill a la premiere 
sommite du Mont Blanc, les 25, 26 ct 27 aout, 1825. Paris, 
Nepveu ; Geneve, Delarne, 1827. 

A Brief Historical Sketch of the Valley of Chamouni. Paris, 

Pihan, Delaforest, Morinval, 1832, broch. 8vo. 

SiMON'D, L. — ^Voyage en Suisse. Paris et Strasbourg, Treuttel et 
Wiirtz, 1822, 2 vols., 8vo. (English translation. London, J, 

Murray, 1823.) 

Smith, A. — The Story of Mont Blanc. London, Bogue, 1853, 8vo. 
The original story appeared in " Blackwood's Magazine " of 
January, 1852, and was reprinted under the title : Mont Blanc 
(privately printed) ; there is a French translation of the article b\' 
J. Coindet in the " British Review" of July, 1852, p. 41-75. 


The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Smith, A. — A Boy's Ascent of Mont Blanc, by himself (article in the 
" Boy's Birthday Book" for 1859, ^^^ other editions). 


PoRTATORi DEL C. A. I. Alpi Occidextali . Torino, Candeletti, 
1888, broch i2mo. 

Stephen, L. — The Playground of Europe. New edition. London, 
Longmans, 1894. 

[Stephex, L.] — Up and Down Mont Blanc (article in the Christmas 
number of "Chambers' Journal," 1866. London, Chambers. Svo). 

Sunset on Mont Blanc (article in the "Cornhill Magazine," 

October, 1873 ; French translation in "I'E. d A" 1875, pp. 86-99). 

Studer, G. — Ueber Eis und Schnee. Die hochsten Gipfel dcr 
Schweiz und die Geschichtc ihrer Besteigungen (v. tome ii. et iii.). 
Berne, Dalp, 1870-1871. 8vo. 

Talfourd, T. N. — Vacation Rambles and Thoughts. 2 vol. London, 
E. Moxon, 1845. 24mo. 

Tarik des guides [du Valais] Reglements, etc. ; publics par les soins 
de la section iklonte-Rosa du S. A. C. Lausanne, G. Bridal, 1877, 
br. petit Svo. 

Thomas, P. W.— Tlic Death-Roil of Mont Blanc ("Chambers' 
Journal," 14th August, 1886). 

Tilly, H. de. — Ascensions aux cimes de I'Etna et du Mont Blanc, 
Geneve, Berthier, 1835. Svo. 

T[issaxdier] G. — La catastrophe du Mont Blanc du 21 aoiit, 1891 
(" La Nature," no. du 5 septembre, 1891). Lettre de M. G. de 

Un refuge au ]Mont-Blanc ("La Nature," no. du 13 septembre^ 

1890.) Paris, Masson, gr. in Svo. 

L'Observatoire du Mont-Blanc. (" La Nature," no. du 14 

novembre, 1891), v. Jaxssex. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

ToDESco, E. — Un' ascensione al Monte Bianco da Chamonix (article 
dans les " Scritti varii di argomento attenente al Alpinismo." 
Florence, 4* annee, pp. 77-81). 

ToPFFER, R. — Nouvcaux voyages en zigzags a la Giandc-Chartrcuse, 
autour du Mont-Blanc, etc, 2" ^'^•i 8^'°) Paris, 1864 ; 7* ed. 
Paris, Garnier freres, 1868, 4to. 

Trench, F. — A Walk Round Mont Blanc. London, R. Bentley, 1847. 

TscHUDi, I. VON. — Der Turist in der Schweiz. 31st ed. Zurich, 
Orell Fiissli, 1890, petit 8vo. 

Tyxdall, J. — The Glaciers of the Alps. Being a Narrative of Ex- 
cursions and Ascents, an Account of the Origin and Phenomena 
of Glaciers, and an Exposition of the Physical Principles to 
whicli they are related. London, Murray, i860. 8vo. 

Hours of Exercise in the Alps. London, Longman, 1871. Bvo. 

The Glaciers and the Transformations of Water. 3rd ed. 

Paris, Germer-Baillere et C, 1880. 8vo. 

Undrell, Captain. — Article on his ascent of Mont Blanc, in the 
"Annals of Philosophy," May, 1821. 

UziELLi, G. — Leonardo da Vinci e le Alpi (article dans le " Boll. 
C. A. L," 1889). 

Vaccarone, L.— Le Vie delle Alpi Occidental! negli Antichi Tempi. 
Turin, Candeletti, 1884. 8vo. 

Statistica delle prime ascensioni nelle Alpi Occidentali. 3® ed. 

Turin, Roux, 1890. 8vo. 

Vansittart, N.— Ascent of Mont Blanc (Littell's " Living Age," New 
York, November, 1851). 

Vautheleret, M. de.— Traversee centrale des Alpes par le Col du 
Geant. Abbeville, Retaux. 8vo. 

The Bibliography of Mont Blanc 

Vernes, F. — Voyage episodique et pittorcsque aux Glacicres des 
Alpes. Paris, Gautier et Bretin, 1807. 121110. 

Vezian, a. — Esquisse d'unc Histoire Geologiquc du Mont-Blanc 
(article dans " L'Ann. du C. A. F.," 1880}. 

Vincent, H. — Au Mont-Blanc en ete et en hiver. Grenoble, Vincent 
et Perroux, 1882. 

ViOLLE, J. — Une Expedition Scientifique au Mont-Blanc (" Revue 
des Deux-Mondes," 15 novembre, 1875). 

ViOLLET-LE-Duc, E. — Le massif du Mont-Blanc. Etude sur sa 
constitution Geodesique et Geologique, sur les Transformations 
et sur r etat Ancien et Moderne de ses Glaciers. Paris, Baudry, 
1876. 8vo. 

Waring, S. M. — The Traveller's Fireside : a series of papers on 
Switzerland, the Alps, etc. London : Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 
18 19. 24010. 

Wey, F. — La Haute-Savoie. 2nd edition. Paris, Hachette and Co., 
1865. i2nio. 

White, \\\ — To Mont Blanc and Back Again. London, George 
Routledge, 1854. 8vo. 

Whymper, E. — Scrambles Amongst the Alps in the Years 1860-1869, 
London, John Murray, 1871. 8vo. Fourth edition, 1893. (French 
translation by Ad. Joanne, under tlie title : Escalades dans les 
Alpes, 2nd edition. Paris, Hachette & Co., 1875, gr. 8vo.) 

WiLBRAHAM, E. B. — Article in the " Keepsake" for 1832, p. i. 

Wills, A. — Wanderings among the High Alps. London, Bentley, 
1856, 8vo. 2nd edition, 1858. 

The Ascent of Mont Blanc, 1858. (Privately printed.) 

The Eagle's Nest in the Valley of Sixt ; a Summer Home 

among the Alps ; together with some excursions among the Great 
Glaciers. London, Longman, i860. 8vo. 


The Annals of Mont Blanc 

Wilson, G. — Letters from an Absent Brother. London, 2 vols., 
2nd edition, 1824. i6mo. 

[Windham, W.] — Relation d'un vo}^agc aux glacieres de Savoie en 
I'annee 1741, publiee par T. Dufour dans "I'Echo des Alpes," 

[WiNDHAM, W., AND Martel, P.] — An account of the Glacieres or 
Ice Alps in Savoy. In two letters, one from an English Gentle- 
man to his Friend at Geneva ; the other from Peter Martel, 
Engineer, to the said English Gentleman. London, 1744. 4to. 

Wright, W. D. — Ascent of IMont Blanc (article in the Christmas 
Number, 1891, of the " Boys' Own Paper "). 

Yates, Mrs. A. — Letters written during a Journey to Switzerland. 
London, 1843. 2 vols. Svo. 

Zeitschrift des Deutschen und Oesterreichischen Alpen- 
VEREixs, depuis 1870. Munich ct Vienne. 8vo. 

Zincke, F.-B. — Sexagenarian Mountaineering (" Fraser's Magazine," 
August, 1877). 

Zsgimondy, E. — DieGefahren der Alpen. Leipzig, Baldamus, 1885 ; 
2^ ed., 1887, in Svo (contient plusieurs commentaires relatifs a 
divers accidents survenus dans la chaine du Mont Blanc). 
Traduction franpaise de la i" ed. (preface par A. Lemercier), 
sous le titre : Les dangers dans la montagne ; indications 
pratiques pour les ascensionnistes. Neuchatel, Attinger freres, 
1886. 8vo. 

ZuRCHER et Margolle. — Lcs Glacicrs. 3e ed. Paris, Hachette 
et C*, 1875. 8vo. 

Note. — This bibliography has, with a few additions, been taken by 
permission from that published by M. Louis Kurz, in the French edition 
of his " Guide to the Chain of Mont Blanc." 




Number of 






.(Michel Gabriel Paccard 

Ijacques Balmat 

(Jacques Balmat 

-j Jean Michel Cachat 

lAlexis Tournier 

Horace Benedict de Saussure 

Colonel Mark Beaufoy 

Mr. Woodley 

(M. Doorthesen 

(M. Forneret 

^laria Paradis 

M. Rodatz 

Count Matzewski 

'Dr. William Howard 

(Jeremiah van Rensselaer 

Captain J. Undrell, R.N 

Frederick Clissold 

H. H. Jackson 

(Dr. Edmund Clark 

(Captain Markham Sherwill .. 

(William Hawes 

(Charles Fellows 


1786. August 8 

1787- July 5 








August 3 
August 9 
August 5 

August II 

July 14 
September 10 
August 4 

July 12 

August II 
August 19 
September 4 

August 26 

1827. July 25 


Number of 















John Auldjo 

The Hon. E. Bootle Wilbraham ... 

Dr. Martin Barry 

Count Henri de Tilly 

Alfred Waddington 

/•Henry Martin Atkins | 

j Samuel Pidwel i- 

\M. Hedrengen ) 

M. Doulat 

[Henriette d'Angevillc | 

j M. Eisenkramer r 

V Count Karol de Stoppen j 

II Marchese di Sant' Angelo 

(The Chevalier Jacques Carelli de) 
1 Rocca Castello f 

|M. Chenal ^ 

iM. Ordinaire I 

( Mr. Nicholson . 
(The Abbe Caux. 

fW. Bosworth.... 

] Ed. Cross 

Ul. Blanc 

M. Jacot 

M. Bravais 

■ M. Martins ; 

,M. le Pileur 

Count Fernand de Bouille 

(J. Woolley , 

(J. T. Hurt 

Archibald Vincent Smith ., 

jS. A. Richards 

(W. K. Gretton 

J. D. Gardner 

Erasmus Galton 

,Albert Smith 

The Hon. W. E. Sackville West 
'C. G. Floyd 

F. Philips 

G. N. Vansittart 

1827. August 9 
1830. August 3 
1834. September 17 
1834. October 9 

1836. July 10 

1837. August 23 

1837. August 26 

1838. September 4 

1840. August 27 
1843. August 16 

1843. August 26 

1843. August 31 

1843. September 4 

1843. September 10 

1844. August 29 

1846. July 14 

1846. August 5 

1847. August II 

1850. August 29 

1850. September 3 
1850. September 6 

J 1 85 1. August 13 






1820. Aug. 20 





Aug. 15, 
Aug. 9 

Aug. 23 

Oct. 13 

AU£J. 2 


. M. Rochester ] 
F. Vavassour ... (■ 
B. Fuller 

1870. Sept. 6 





Sept. 14 
Aug. 31 

July 19 

Aug. I 
Aug. 12 

Aug. 19 

1891. Aug. 21 



Aug. 25 

Aug. 27 

Aug. 18 

July 14 


Capt. Arkwright 
Mrs. G. Marke . 

'Mr. Randall ... 
Mr. McCorkindale 
^Mr. Beane 

Prof. Fedchenko 
J. A. G. Marshall 

Prof. Balfour 

Mario Rey 

Count diVillanova 
Herr Rothe 

R. L. Nettleship... 

Signer Poggi 

Signor Cumani ... 

R. Schniirdreher 

— Reigel 


[Pierre Carrier ' 

■j Pierre Balmat 

( Augusta Tairraz . . . , 

Frederic Tairraz 


Ambroise Couttet... 

[Michel Simond 

-1 Frangois Tournier 
I Joseph Tournier .. 

Olivier Gay 

, Jean Balmat 

Joseph Breton 

Edouard Simond... 
^ Augusta Couttet ... 
'] Augusta Cachat ... 

F'erdinand Tairraz 
I Alphonse Balmat... 
^Johann Graf 

Johann Fischer. 

Johann Petrus 

Gratien Brunod ... -, 

f J. J. Maquignaz ...| 

•j A. Castagneri I 

( Two porters ) 

Michel Simond. 

( Michel Savoie 
] Laurent Brun 

Avalanche. Party 

Slip on snow. 

Party improperly 

Fall in crevasse, 

Slip on snow ; no 


Avalanche ; bad 

Fall in crevasse 

Climbing in bad 
weather. Bad 

Exposure ; incom- 
petence of guides 

Fall in schrund ; 

Slip on rocks. Two 
persons only in 

Two persons only ; 
no guides 

Slip on rocks, un- 

Climbing in bad 

Bad weather, bad 
guiding, bad rop- 
Climbing in bad 

Falling stone 
Climbing alone 
Slip on ice ; bad 

Climbing alone 




"Chamoxix, 3isi! August, 1825. 
"Sir, — I take the liberty of writing to you to tell you that a large 
number of travellers have come to visit the Montanvert, the Jardin, 
the Mont Breven, and La Flegere. Two Englishmen reached 
the top of Mont Blanc on the 26th at 2.45 p.m. They were only 
able to remain eighteen minutes on the summit and were unable to 
see the panorama of mountains, the summits and the valleys being 
hidden by clouds. These gentlemen were Captain Markham Sher- 
will and Dr. Edmund Clark of London. They were led by seven 
guides. They experienced much difficulty in climbing the great 
slopes near the summit on account of the snow, which was very soft 
in places and very hard in others. It was necessar}^ to cut steps in 
the ice crust with axes, and this rendered the ascent of the last 
slopes very difficult. These gentlemen had great difficulty in over- 
coming the rariiication of the air which exists in the higher regions, 
" Meanwhile I remain 

" Your very devoted Servant, 

"Jacques Balmat, 
" dit Mont Blanc." 

Note. — This letter was written by Balmat at the age of sixty-three, and is copied 
in Paccard's manuscript volume. 


" A Mademoiselle d'Angeville. 

" Mademoiselle, — Every one in our valley speaks in the highest 
terms of your goodness towards the unfortunate, but the experience 
of it which my mother-in-law (your predecessor on the summit of 
Mont Blanc) has had, shows that all that has been said falls short 
of the reality. 



" Notwithstanding the great kindness which characterises you, and 
the unexampled generosity you have been pleased to show to my 
dear mother and to me, I should not have dared to raise my eyes 
in petition to you, had not dire necessity compelled me to do so. 

" During a short space of time I have had to deplore the loss of 
my dear mother-in-law. I have seen a portion of my little property 
ravaged by a tremendous flood. I hardly escaped being crushed 
under the ruins of my poor abode. Now I am alone with an aged 
aunt and a sick child. I have been destitute for some time, having 
nothing to hope for except the charity of my neighbours. In this 
wretched condition I venture to raise my hands in supplication to 
you, whom I justly regard in the light of a new Providence. Excuse, 
Mademoiselle, the boldness and the perfect confidence with which 
I take the liberty of expressing to you my needs. Condescend, 
Mademoiselle, to receive with favour my humble petition, and 
believe in the respect and in the everlasting gratitude of the 
humblest and most unworthy of your servants. 


" From the house of my mother-in-law, 

" Madame Frangoise Paradis, 

"September 2, 1846." 

— From the collection oj M. Bastard, 0/ Geneva. 


An ACCOUNT of the 


O R 


I N 



One from an 

EngliJJo Gentleman to his Friend at Geneva j 

The other from 

PETER M ARr E L, Engineer, 
to the fa id Englijlj Gntleman. 

Illuftrated with a M a p, and two Views of the 
Pl aCe, &c. 

As laid before the Royal Society. 


Printed 'for Peter Mart el, 

And Sold by W Meadows in Combtll , P. Vaillant in the Strand; 
G. Haii-iins betvveei^ the Two Temple Gates ; R. Dodjley in 
Fall Mall; J. Pallaret agaiiifi; Catherine Street \\\ the Strand ; 
and M. Cooper in Pajler Nojler Roiv. MDCCXLIV. 

(Price One Shilling and Six-pence.) 


A LETTER from an Engli/h Gentleman to Mr, 
Arlaud, a celebrated Painter at Geneva, giving an 
Account of a Journey to the Glacieres, or Ice Alps in 
Savoy, written in the Tear 1741. Tranftated from 
tb^ French. 

Si r, 

ACCORDING to your Defire I fend you an Account of our 
Journey to the Glacieres. I fhall give it you in the plainefl 
Manner, without endeavouring to embellifh it by any florid Def- 
criptions, although the Beauty and Variety of the Situations and 
Profpeds that we obferved in this unfrequented Part of the World, 
would well defervc to bedefcribed by one, who, like you, join to 
fo great a Skill in Painting fo lively and poetical an Imagination ; 
but thefe not being my Talents, I will, as I faid before, confine 
myfelf to the giving you a faithful Relation of the Incidents of our 
Journey, and acquainting you with the Obfervations we made. I 
ihall add a few Hints, which may be ufeful to fuch as fhall here- 
after have the fame Curiolity that we had, and who may perhaps 
have Advantages and Conveniences which we had not to make 
more accurate Obfervations. It is really Pity that fo great a Cu- 
riofity, and which lies fo near you, fliould be fo little known ; for 
though ScheucfjzeTy in his Iter Alpinum, defcribes the Glacieres 
that are in the Canton of Berne, yet they feem to me by his Def- 
cription to be very different from thofe in Savoy. 

I had long had a great Defire to make this Excurfion, but the 
Difficulty of getting Company had made me defer it: Luckily in 
the Month of June laft * Dr. Pococke arrived at Geneva from his 
Voyages into the Levant and Egypt, which Countries he had vi- 
fited with great Exadtnefs. I mentioned to him this Curiofity, 
and my Defire to fee it, and he who was far from fearing Hard- 
Hiips, expreffing a like Inclination, we immediately agreed to go 
there ; when fome otheis of our Friends found a Party w^s made, 
they likewife came into it, and I was commifTioncd to provide 
what was neceflary for our fetting out. 

* The lame who has lately publiihed fo accurate end iogemoiu an Accouot of his Trareb. 

B As 


2 An Account of the Glacieres in Savoy. 

As we were afliired on all hands, that we fhould fcarcely find 
any of the NecelTaries of Life in thofe Parts, we took with us 
Sumpter Horfes, loaded with Provificns, and a Tent, which was 
of fome ufe to us, though the terrible Defcription People had given 
us of the Country was much exaggerated. I had provided feveral 
Mathematical Inflruments to take Heights, and make Obfervation* 
with, hoping that Mr. Willia?njbn, an able Mathematician, Gover- 
nor to Lord Hadinton, would have been of the Party; but he de- 
clining it, on account of the Fatigue which he fear'd he {hould 
liot be able to fupport, I chofe not to take the Trouble of carry- 
ing them, there being no Perfon in the Compar\y fo capable as 
he of making a proper ul'e of them. 

We fet out from Geneva the 19^'' oi June, N. S. we were * 
Eight in Company, befides five Servants, all of us well arm'd, and 
our Baggage-Horfes attending us, fo that we had very much the 
Air of a Caravan. The firft Day we went no farther than Bon- 
neville, a Town about four Leagues diflant from Geneva, accord- 
ing to the way of reckoning there ; thefe four Leagues took us 
more than fix Hours riding. This Place is fituated at the Foot 
of the Maule, and clofe by the River yfr-ji? ; 'tis furrounded with 
beautiful Meadows and high Mountains, covered with Trees, 
which form all together a very delightful Situation. There is a 
«ery good Stone-Bridge near the Town, but it had fuffered in the 
late Innundation of the Arve, which had carried away part of it. 
Our Inn was a tolerable one for Savoj as to every thing but Beds.. 

The next Day being the 20'\ we fet out very early in the 
Morning, and paffed the Arve ; our Road lay between that River 
and the Mountains, all along which we were entertained with an 
agreeable Variety of fine Landfl-;ips. They reckon two Leagues 
from Bofmcville to C/u/e, but we were three Hours and an half in 
going it. 

Clufe is fituated in a narrow Pafs between the Mountains, which 
almoft meet in this Place [leaving only room for the ylrve, which 
is thus hemm'd in for above a League togethfer.] Before you come 
to Clufe there is a kind of Hermitage, upon a Rock on the Right 
Hand, where we climb'd up in order to enjoy the Profpeit, which 
is delicious; after that we paffed the Arve over a fine Stone Bridge, 
of one very large Arch, artdcontinuedour Journey for about an Hour 
and an half through a narrow Road, along the Arve, between Rocks 

* Vh. Lord Hadintcit, the Honourable | AU-^onh, Pi<otki, P,ue,, and 
Llf. EatUU hii Bretber, and Meil Qlat'UQxd, \ Stilli>igjinr, 



An Account of the Glacleres m Savoy. 3 

of a prodigious Height, which look'd as if they had been fplit on 
purpofe to give the River a PafTage. Not to mention the Beauty 
of the Vievi'5 all along, we were extremely entertained by con- 
tinual Echoes, and the prodigious ratding, caufed by cracking a 
Whip, or firing a Piftol, which we repeated feveral Times. We 
faw Cafcades on every Side, which fell from the Top of high 
Rocks into the Arve, There is one among the reft of fingular Beau- 
ty, it is called the "Nan d'Arpena,. 'tis a great Torrent, which falls 
from a very high Rock; all ^w^ Company agreed it muft be higher 
than * Saleve. As for my Part, I wiil not pretend to decide about it, 
I however may veuCure to fay, that the Cafcade of Terni does not 
fall from near fo great a Height ; but then the Quantity of Water, 
when we faw it, was much lefs than at this laft njontioned Place j 
tho' the People of the Country aflured us, that at certain times the 
Water is much more abundant than it was then. 

After about three Hours riding from Clufe, we came to Saint 
Martini Bridge, right againfl Salancbes, which is on the other 
Side of the Arve. 'We did not care to go out of our Way into the 
Town ; but chofe rather to encamp in a fine Meadow near the 
Bridge, in order to refre& ourfelves. From tl'ience v/e fet out 
again on our Journey, and after four Hours riding through very 
bad Ways, being obliged -to crojs fome dangerous Torrents, we ar- 
rived at 3. Utile Village called Servoz. Our Horfes fuffered here 
very much, being tied to Pickets all Night in the open Air fqr 
want of Stabling ; befides, there was neither Oats, cor any other 
Forrage, but Grafs frefn cut ; as for ourfelves, as we had brought 
all Neceffaries along with us, we v/ere well enough ofF, except as 
to Beds, and that want was fupplied by clean Straw in a Earn. 

From thence we fet forward at break of Dayj and paffed the 
Arve once more over a veiy bad wooden Bridge, and after hav- 
ing clim'd over a fteep Mountain, where we had no fmall Diffi- 
culty with oar Horfes, their Shoes coming off continually, and 
they often running the rifque of tumbling into the Arve, which 
run at the Bottom of the Rock, we came into a pleafant Valley, 
where we pafs'd the Arve a fourth time over a Stone Bridge, and 
then :firn: had a View of the Glccieres. We continued our Jour- 
ney on to Chamouny^ which is a Village upon the North-fide of 
the Arve^ in a Valley ,^ where there, is a Priory belonging to the 
Chapter of Salancbes; here we cncamp'd, and while our Dinner 

* Salev/ is a Mountain, about three I cular Height is about 1 150 frencb Feec. 
Miles from GinevA, whofe perpcndi- j 

B 2 vnz 


4 j^H he coviJT of the Glacieres in Savoy. 

was preparing, we inquired of the People of the Place about the 
Glacieres. They {hewed us at firft the Ends of them which reach 
into the Valley, and were to be feen from the Village ; thefe ap- 
pear'd only like white Rocks, or rather like immenfe Icicles, 
made by Water running down the Mountain. This did not fatisfy 
our Curiofjty, and we thought we were come too far to be con- 
tented with fo fmall a Matter j we therefore flridlly inquired of 
the Peafants whether we could not by going up the Moun- 
tain difcover fomething more worth our Notice, They told us we 
might, but the greateft Part of them reprefented the Thing as very 
difficult and laborious ; they told us no-body ever went there but 
thofe whofe Bufinefs it was to fearch for Cryflal, or to (hoot 
* Bouquetins and Chamois, and that all the Travellers, who had been 
to the Glacieres hitherto, had been fatisfied with what we had al- 
ready feen. 

• The Bouquet ttts are Animals much 
larger, and lefs Shaggy than a Goat ; for 
their Figure, fee Plate ^ het.a. They live 
in the higheft Mountains, and come down 
very rarely, for which reafon the Trouble 
and Danger of Hunting them is very 
great ; they are very courageous, making 
ufe of their great Horns for Defence, 
when attaclc'd ; they are very cunning, 
and by the Wind fmeli the Hunter a vait 
way oif ,' when chafed, they leap an in- 
credible Diftance, and being purfued 
clofely will throw themfelves down high 
Precipices, and by falling upon their 
Horns break their Fall fo as not to hurt 
themfelves. The Edges of their Hoofs, 
or Qaws, are fo fharp and hard, that the 
Impreflion of them may be feen on 
Stones. Their Blood is efteeroed as a fo- 
vereign Remedy in Pleuritick DiforJers, 
which is reckoned to be owing to the 
Herbs they feed on in thefe Mountains, 
particularly an Herb called, in the Lan- 
guage of the Countr)', Gmepi. Cha- 
mois is a Kind of Goat, only ftronger ; 
for their Figure, fee Plate 4. Let. b. They 
keep on the high Mountains of the ^Ips ^ 
they are very fond of licking certain 
Rcc;ks, of a kind of (ok crumbling Stone, 
vfhich is Salt, and in thole Places the 

Hunters go tc look for tBem, and (ur- 
prife them, which is however very diS- 
cult, for they always have fome of the 
Herd (landing on high Rocks as Gentries, 
and when they perceive any Danger they 
give the Alarm by a Noife they make, 
upon which the reft betake themfelves to 
the Precipice?, where it is impollible to 
follow them. Sometimes this kind of 
Sport becomes dangerous, not only by 
reafon of 'he craggy Rocks one muft 
climb up to, but becaufe it often happens 
that the Hunter purfues the Chamois into 
Ibme narrow Pais, where there is but 
juft Foot hold for one Perfon, having en 
one fide a deep Rock above him, and 
beneath a frightful Precipice , the Cha- 
tmis then having no way to efcape is 
obliged to turn .upon the Hunter, and en- 
deavours either to jump over him, or 
elfe fqueefe between him and the Rook, 
in which cafe he puflies the Man down 
the Precipice j (o that all he his to do is 
either to lay down, or elfe, by flruggling, 
make good his Place, and thrul^ the Be^ 
down the Rock. It is with their Horns 
that the linle Reed-canes Ladies carry 
are generally tipt, and of their Skins is 
tnade the auc Shammy Leather. 



An Account of the Glacleres /W Sav^oy. j 

The Prior of the Place was a good old Man, who (hewed us many 
Civilities, and endeavoured alfo to difTuade us; there were others 
who reprefented the Thing as mighty eafy ; but we perceived 
plainly, that they expeded, that after we had bargain'd with them 
to be our Guides, we fiiould foon tire, and that they fliould earn 
their Money with little Trouble. However our Curiofity ^oK the 
better of thefe Difcouragements, and relying on our Strength and 
Refolution, we determined to attempt climbing the Mountain. 
We took with us feveral Peafants, fome to be our Guides, and others 
to carry Wine and Provifions. Thefe People were fo much perfuad- 
ed that we (hould never be able to go through with our Talk, that 
they took with them Candles and Inftruments to llrike Fire, in 
cafe we Ihould be overcome with Fatigue, and be obliged to fpend 
the Night on the Mountain. In order to prevent thofe among us 
who were the raoft in wind, from fatiguing the reft, by pufhing 
on too faft, we made the following Rules: That no one fhould go 
out of his Rank ; That he who led the way fliould go a (low and 
even Pace ; That who ever found himfelf fatigued; or out of Breath, 
might call for a Halt ; And laftly, that when ever we found a 
Spring we fliould drink fome of our Wine, mixed with Water, 
and fill up the Bottles, we had emptied, with Water, to ferve us 
at other Halts where v/e fhould find none. Thefe Precautions were 
fo ufeful to us, that, perhaps, had we not obferved them, the Pea- 
fants would not have been deceived in their Conjedures. 

We fet out about Noon, the ^^^ oi June, and crofied the y^ri;^ 
over a wooden Bridge. Mofl: Maps place the G lacier es on the 
fame Side with Chamoign)\ but this is a Aliftake. We were quick- 
ly at the Foot of the Mountain, and began to afcend by a very 
fleep Path through a Wood of Firs and Larche Trees. We made 
many Halts to refrefli ourfelves, and take breath, but we kept on 
at a good Rate. After we had paffed the Wood, we came to a 
!<jnd of Meadow, full of large Stones, and Pieces of Rocks, that 
were broke off, and fallen down from the Mountain ; the Afcent 
was fo fteep that we were obliged fometimes to cling to them with 
our Hands, and make ufe of Sticks, with (harp Irons at the End, 
to fupport ourfelves. Our Road lay flant Ways, and we had feve- 
ral Places to crofs where the * Avalanches of Snow were fallen, " 

* Avalanche. To explain the meaning which contain fome curious Particular; 

of this Word, I believe it will not be un- relating to thofc mountainous Parts of the 

entertaining to the Reader to cite fome VVoild. . . V . 
Paflages frpm the Deiices dt la Suijp^ 


6 /^;« Account of the Glacieres m Savoy. 

and had made terrible Havock ; there was nothing to be fecQ but 

** Bcfides tiicfe Ice Mountains, the 
" Snows are excremely dangerous to 
*' Travellers. There often fall tVom thefe 
" high Mountains immenfe Balls of 
" Snow, which arc called in German La- 
" winen, in Italian Lavine, in French 
" Avabrabes, which by the [mpetuolity 
*• of their Fall make a NoiCe like a Clap 
" cf Thunder, fo that thofe that are ar a 
" Diflar.ce imagine it to be really fo, as 
" I remember it happened to myfelf 
" fome Years fince, having heard one 
" that fell in the Fallais, though I was 
" above twenty Leagues diflant from ir. 
" Sometimes it is cauCed by the new fal- 
" ten Snow, which being driven by the 
«' Violence of the Wuid, forms vaft 
" Snov/ballf, which gather by rolling, and 

" overwhelm every thing they meet, 
" both Men and Bcafts. As it is very dif- 
" ficult to avoid them, becaufe they are 
" extremely fudden, fo, being very light, 
" a Man may remain under them longer 
" v/ithout being fufFocaced ; but there 
" are others which are occafioned by the 
" Thaws in the Spring, which are much 
" more dangerous, great MafTes of old 
" Snow, melting underneath, fall off a: 
" once, making a terrible Noife, but 
" ftill more Ravage, no: only deftroy- 
" ing Men and Cattle, but even Trees 
" and Houfes. Claudian, who lived in 
" the fourth and fifth Centuries, informs 
" us, that fuch Accidents were known in 
" his I'une, Fjd( 4'"^ Conful. Honor'it : 

*' tnulros hauferc profunda! 
'' Vafta mole nives ; cumque ipfis fsepe juvencis 
" Naufraga candenti merguntur plauftra barathro, 
" Interdum fubitam, Glacie labence, ruinam 
" Mors dedic. 

" A Trifle will produce thefe rerrible 
*' Accidents in the y/Z/r, the Flight of a 
" Bird, the Leaping of a Chamois^ the 
" firing a Piftol, a Shour, fpeaking loud, 
" the Bells of the Mules and Pack- 
" Horfes, or even a gentle Rain are fuf- 
" ficient to loolen this Snow, and bring 
" it down to the Deftrudlion of PafTcn- 
'*' gers; fo little hold has it on thefe fteep 
" Places. For this Reafon they always 
" take great Care to caution Travellers 
** in Places where there is danger of this 
*' Sort, to travel early, and in great Si- 
" lence, and to get through as fa ft as 
*' pofiible, as one would out of a Houfc 
" on Fire : And the Voiturins fill with 
*' Hay or Straw the Bells of their Beafts, 
*' in lome Places, as in the Vald'Avtrfa., 
" in the Grifom they put the Bells on- 
'•' ly a Foot above the Ground, that their 
*' Sound fliould not extend fo far as to 
" caufe Danger, and in feveral Places 
" they do not ufe them at all for that 
" Reafon. In the Lower ^ngadlne, be- 
•* tween the Villages of Laviit and Guar- 

d'la^ there are all along the Road fe- 
veral Caves made in the Rocks for 
Travellers to retire into when they fee 
any of thefe Mountains of Snow fall- 
ing i but if they are fo unfortunate as 
not to be able to reach ftjch a Place, 
the only way is to get as clofe to fome 
Rock as polTible, and cling to it, fo 
as not to be carried away, and to en- 
deavour to keep (heir Head free, 
to be able to breaih till Affiftance 
comes ; for in all thefe Places there 
are People paid by the Magiftrates to 
look after the Ways, and keep them 
always open , and as foon as there is 
fallen any Quantity of Snow, they go 
and mend the Ways, fmooth the Snows 
with large Pieces of Vv'ood, drawn by 
Oxen, and iliovel it away, and at the 
lame rime evamine all dangerous Pla- 
ces to fee if there is no poor Traveller 
buried under the Snow. The Hiilo- 
ries of Switzerland are full of the ter- 
rible Ravages made in feveral Pbces, 
at diffefcnt tiroes, by ihefc Avalanches 



An Account of the Glacieres in Savoy. 7 

Trees torn up by the Roots, and large Stones, which Teemed to 
lie without any Support j every ftep we fet, the Ground gave 
way, the Snow which was mixed with it made us flip, and had it 
not been for our Staffs, and our Hands, we nnuft many times have 
gone down the Precipice. We had an uninterrupted View quite to 
the Bottom of the Mountain, and the Steepnefs of the Defcent, 

<* in 1499. When the Emperor Maxi- 
<^ milian made War upon the Grifans, a 
" Bcxiy of aooo Men of his Troops 
«' having been ordered to paTs a high 
" Mountain to go into the Engadiae, aU 
« Avalanche filling fuddenly upon them, 
«• buried 400 Soldiers, which at firft 
** caufed great Confdjon and TcrrOr in 
<' the reft, which v/as focn turned into 
*' Laughter, when they Ciw all the 400 
'* Men Cife and found out ef their fnowy 
<' Tomb, not one being loft But the 
"■ Year following a Body of Stviizers, 
" going into Italy for the Service of the 
** Fnnch, was furprized on the Mounc of 
*' St. Bermrdy by a horrible Avalanche 
»* which deftroyed a hundred of them. 
" And in our Memory, in the Year 1695, 
" on the 2j" oi February y atTeno'Oock 
" at Night, a violent Wind brought 
" down a molt terrible Avalanche of 
" above 100 Yards in wtdth upon a 
" Village in the l^all Madia, v/hicb de- 
" ftroyed eleven Houfes, with as many 
" Barns and Scabies, (b entirely, that there 
" fcarce remained one Stone upon an- 
" other, and very much damaged nineteen 
*' other Houfes that remained. The 
" Violence of the Wind blew open the 
" Windows of fome Houfes, and filled 
" them with Snowj thirty-four Perfons 
'' perilhed in this Storm, fom.e were 
" taken alive, almoft mrraculoufly from 
" under the Snow, amongft others a 
" Mother and two Children. It happens 
" very often that Travellers who .are 
" caught in the Snows dre happily pre- 
" ferved and faved from Death. When 
'*' any one is found feemingly dead, with- 
'• out Scnfe or Motion, the firft Reme- 
" dy is to plunge him in cold Water. 
" To fome it Vv'ill appear both barbarous 
" and ridiculous to dip a Man, who is 
" frozen, and almoft dwV,d with Cold, 

"into cold Water J but let thetn know 
" that It would be certain Death to any 
" one to give him heat fuddenly when he 
" is frozen. They begin therefore with 
" dipping him inco cold Water, upon 
" which his whole Body is covered wirh 
" a Cruft of Ice j afterwards he is put 
" into luke-warm Water, then proceed- 
*' ing by Degrees, they get him into a 
" Bed well v/armed, and finilh his Cure 
"■ by Cordials and Fomentations. And' 
" this Rule holds gOod alfo with regard to 
" Fruits, when the Froii has caught them y 
" one muft never carry them it once into 
" a .warm Place, but the way is to dip- 
" them into cold Water, and then into- 
" warm Water, by which jneans they be- 
" come pretty good again. I wijl dot 
" leave this Subjed without obferving a, 
" thing, v/hich is truly a phyKcal Para" 
" doK, which is, that the Water that runs 
" from the Gletfchers, or Ice Mountains, 
" that I have mentioned before, is. the 
" beft and wholfomeft that one can drink. 
" .A Traveller that pafffs thofe Mountains 
" can drink no other Water if he is heat- 
" ed, wKhout Dangei' of catching a fetal 
" Diftemper j but he may without Dan- 
" ger drink this Ice Water, whether faft- 
" ing, or after eating, and it has a kind 
" of balfamick Virtue to roftore and for- 
" tify after any Fatigue , this is a knowa 
" Faift, and proved by conftant Expe- 
" rienoe. The Ihhabitants of the /il^ 
" know no other Remedy in Diarrhoea's, 
" Dyfenteries, and Fevers, than this Wa. 
" ter of the GUt/chers, and a celebrated 
." Phyfician has recommended it for the 
" Tooth-Ach. A Man who pafles thro' 
'' thele Pans-ought carefully to avoid two 
" Things, vix. drinking common Water,- 
" and Qeeping near a Fountain, or in the 
" Snow, Gnce they commonly prove 
« falsi." r 



8 A-i hccovni of the Glacleres m Savoy. 

join'd to the Height v/here we were, made a View terrible enough 
to make moft People's Heads turn. In (hort, after climbing with 
great Labour for four Hours and three Quarters, we got to the Top 
of the Mountain ; from whence we had the Pleafure of beholding 
Objects of an. extraordinary Nature. We were on the Top of a 
Mountain, which, as well as we could judge, was at leaft twice as 
high as Mount Sakve, from thence we had a full View of the Gla- 
cieret. I own to you that I am extremely at a Lofs how to give 
a right Tdea of it ; as I know no one thing which I have ever ittn 
that has the leaft Refemblance to it. 

The Defcription v/hich Travellers give of the S6as of Greenland 
ieems to come the neareft to it. You muft imagine your Lake 
put in Agitation by a ftrong Wind, and frozen all at once, per- 
haps even that would not produce the fame Appearance. 

The Glackres confifl of three large Valleys, that foroa a kind of 
Y, the Tail reaches into the Val $AoJle^ and the two Horns into 
the Valley of Chamoigny , the Place where we afcended was be- 
tween them, from whence we faw plainly the Valley, which forms 
one of thefe Horns. 

I had unluckily left at Chamoigny a pocket Compafs, which I 
had carried v/ith me, fo that I could not well tell the Bearings as 
to its Situation ; but I believe it to be pretty nearly from North to 
South, Thefe Valleys, although at the Top of a high Mountain, 
are furrounded with other Mountains; the Tops of which being 
naked and craggy Rocks, fnoot up immenfely high ; fomething re- 
fembling old Gothic Buildings or Ruines, nothing grows upon 
them, they are all the Year round covered with Snow ; and our 
Guides affured us, that neither the Chamois^ nor any Birds, ever 
went fo high as the Top of them. 

Thofe who fearch after Cryftal, go m the Month of Auguji to 
the Foot of thefe Rocks, and ftrike againft them with Pick-axes ; 
if they hear them jefound as if they were hollow, they work there, 
and opening the Rock, they find Caverns full of Cryftalifations. We- 
fliould have been very glad to have gone there, but the Seafon was 
not enough advanced, the Snow not being yet fufticiently melted* 
As far as our Eye-fight could reach, we faw nothing but this Val- 
ley ; the Height of the Rocks, which furrounded. it, made k im- 
pofliWe for the Eye to judge exadtly how wide it was ; but I ima- 
gine it muft be near three Quarters of a League. Our Curiofity 
did not flop here, we were refolved to go down upon the Ice ; we 
had about four hundred Yards to go down, the Defcent was ex- 
celfively fteep, and all of a dry crumbling Earth, mixt with Gra- 


A4 Account of the Glacieres /;^ Savoy. 9 

vcl, and little loore Stones, which afforded us no firm footir.g ; fo 
that we went down partly falling, and partly Aiding on cur Hands 
and Knees, At length we got upon the Ice, where our Difficulty 
ceafed, for that was extremely rough, and afforded us good foot- 
ing ; we found in it an infinite Number of * Cracks, fome we 
could ftepover, others were fevera! Feet wide. Thefe Cracks were fo 

* " In forne Places there are found for inferring a wonderful Adventure which 

Mountains of Ice, which not only never 
raelc, but always increafe by the falling 
of frefh Snow, fo that by little and little 
they extend themfelves, and cover the 
Country all about them The Germam 
call them Gletfcher, wc call them com- 
monly Glacieres. Thefe Ice Mountain"; 
are moftly of an immcnfe Height, and 
(ometiines they fplit fro.n Top to Bot- 
tom, which they do with fo horrible a 
Noifc, that one would think the whole 
Mountain was breaking in Pieces ; tlicfe 
Clefts differ as to the Width and Depth ^ 
there sre fome two, three, or four Feet 
wide, and three or four hundred Yards 
deep, and if a Man falls in he is almoft 
inevitably loft, being either killed by the 
Cold, or drowned in the melted Snow : 
However, in many Places, one is oblig- 
ed to p.iis over thefe Mountains, there 
being no other Way, and when there is 
oy Snow new fallen it is very dangerous, 
for the Ice covers thefe terrible Clefts, 
fo that the Travellers are taken as Birds in 
a Snare, and fall in and perifli. To avoid 
thefe Misfortunes Travellers take Guides, 
who with long Poles found the way to 
fee there is no Cleft, and when they find 
one they muft jump over, or elfe they 
pafs over a Board, whirh they carry for 
that Purpofe The Difficulty augments 
when there is Snow new fallen, for then 
one kes no track of the way at all, and 
one muft obferve certain Poles fet up to 
fhew the wsy, which the Grifom call Sta- 
-as , but m many Places the Inhabitants 
fet up none, that the Travellers may be 
obliged to pay them well for being their 
Guides On thefe Occafions it is nccc- 
(f^ry to have Iron Cramps to ones Shoes, 
not to flip, and vvithil take great Care where 
one fets one's Feet , and on this Occa- 
Aon I hope the Reader will not blame mc 

happened fome Years ago to a Hunter of 
Gluris, named Gafper Stoeri. This Man 
being in purfuit of Chamois, with two 
other Hunters on Mount Limmercn, and 
thinking he was walking on the Snow 
very fafcly, fell into a deep Cleft of the 
Ice : His Companions, v/ho loft fight of 
of him, were io great Uneafmefs, and 
cxpc(fled no otherwife than that he muft 
be killed, either by the Fall, or by the 
Cold of tlie Ice. Neverthclefs that they 
might not reproach themfelves with letting 
him perifK, without endeavouring to help 
him, they ran to the neareft Cottage, 
which waj fall a League off, to look for 
a Rope, or fomething eife to affift him ; 
but finding nothing there but an old Blan- 
ket, they cut it into Icaig Slips, and wen: 
to the Hole where their Companion was. 
While they were going and coming, poor 
Stent was almoft dead with Cold, being 
up to his Middle in ic'd Water. The 
Depth of which was fo great under him, 
that he could not fee to the Bottom, and 
by extending his Arms and Legs, he 
held himfelf faft againft the Sides of 
the Cleft of Ice, fo that he was (liui 
up there, as it were, in a clofe, cold, and 
deep Dungeon. Vou may imagine in 
what a Situation he was, he expected no- 
thing but Death, and was recommending 
hb Soul to God, when his Companions 
arrived, who let down the Slips they 
had cut, to pull him out ; he had Strength 
enough to tie them about his Body, and by 
this Means was drawn up to the Top of 
the Pit j but 2s he wasjuft upon the Pomt 
of being delivered, unhappily the Slip 
which held him up broke, and he fell again 
into the iced Water, and was in greater 
Danger than before. He arried down 
with him a Piece of the Slip which broke, 
and the Remainder was not IcDg enough 
C deep, 


10 /^« Account of the Glacieres tn Savoy. 

deep, that we could not even fee to the Bottom ; thofe v/ho go In 
fcarch of Cryftal are often loft in them, but their Bodies are gene- 
rally found again after fome Days, perfedly well preferved. All 
our Guides allured us, that thxfc Cracks change continually, and 
that the whole Glaciere has a l;ind of Motion. In going up the 
Mountain we often heard fometliing like a Clap of Thunder, 
which, as we were informed by our Guides, was caufed by frefh 
Cracks then making ; but as there were none made while we wero 
upon the Ice, we could not determine whether it was that, or 
Avalanchei of Snows, or perhaps Rocks falling ; though fince Tra- 
vellers obferve, that in Greenland the Ice cracks with a Noife that 
refembles Thunder, it might very well be what our Guides told 
us. As in all Countries of Ignorance People are extremely fuper- 
ftitious, they told us many ftrange Stories of Witches, ^c. who 
came to play their Pranks upon the Glacieres, and dance to the 
Sound of Inftruments. We fliould have been furprifed if we had 
not been entertained in thefe Parts, with fome fuch idle Legends. 
The Boiiquetms go in Herds often to the Number of fifteen or 
iixteen upon the Ice, we faw none of them; there were fome Cha- 
mois which wc fliot at, but at too great a Diftance to do any Exe- 

There is Water continually iffuing out of the Glacieres, which 
{the People look on as fo very wholefomc, that they fay it may be 
drank of in any Quantities without Danger, even when one is hoc 
with Exercife. 

The Sun flione very hot, and the Reverberation of the Ice, and 
circumjacent Rocks, caufed a great deal of thaw'd Water to lie 
in all the Cavities of the Ice j but I fancy it freezes there con- 
ftantly as foon as Night comes on. 

Our Guides alTured us, that, in the time of their Fathers, the 
Glaciere was but fmall, and that there was even a PafTage thro* 
thefe Valleys, by which they could go into the Val d'AoJie in fix 
Hours: But that the Glaciere was To much increafed, that the 
PafTage was then quite flopped up, and that it went on increafing 
every Year. 

to reach him, and, as sn additipnal Mi(^ wesk Inftrument, by a Miracle of Provi- 

fortune, in this fecofvd FjI he broiie his dcnce, was drawn ou: of thfs terrible 

Arm. However his Companions did not Pir, and though he had at firft fainted 

lofe Counige, they divided the Slip again, away, God gave hinJ Strength to come to 

and joining the Pieces end to end, lower 'd himlelf, and to bear the Fatigue of being 

them down to him j he with great Diffi- carried to a Houfe where he entirely re- 

culty, with his broken Arm, tied it round covered." Vui. Del'ues da la Swjfe^ Tom. 

bis Body, while with the other he held to i. pog ji bf ftj. 
tbe iiidcs uf bi£ Dupgeon and wuh ibis 


An Account of the Glacleres /« Savoy. ii 

We found on the Edge of the Glaciere feveral Pieces of Ice, 
which we took at fir ft for Rocks, being as big as a Houfe ; thefe 
were pieces quite feparate from tlje Glaciere. It is difficult to 
conceive how they came to be formed there. 

Having remained about half an Hour upon the Gluciere^ and 
having drank there in Ceremony Admiral Femons Health, and 
Gucceis to the Brilijb Arms, we climb'd to the Summit, from 
whence we came, with incredible Difficulty, the Earih giving 
way at every ftep we fet. From thence, after having refted our- 
felves a few Minutes, we began to defcend, and arrived at Cba^ 
viouny juft about Sun-fet, to the great Aftonifhment of all the 
People of the Place, and even of our Guides, who owned to us 
they thought we {hoyld not liave gone through with our Under- 

Our Curiofity being fully fatisSed, we left Chamouny the next 
Day, and lying at Salanches, we got the 23'' to Bonneville. The 
Nearnefs of this Place to the Maule raifed in us an Inclination to 
go up it. We fet about this Talk the next Day early in 
the Morning ; we fancied that after the Glacieres every Mountain 
would be eafy to us, however it took us more than five Hours hard 
labour in getting up j the Mctni being extremely fleep ; though, after 
two thirds of the Way, there is a fine green Turf quite up to the Top, 
which ends in a Point, the Mountain being like a Sugar-Loaf on 
one Side, and quite perpendicular on that Part which lies fartheft 
from Geneva. From this Point there is a moft delightful View, 
on one Side, upon the Lake, Geneva, and the adjacent Parts ; on 
the other, upon high Mountains cover'd with Snow, which rife 
around, in form of an Amphitheatre, and make a moft Pidurelque 
Profpeft. After having ftay'd fome time here, we returned back, 
and went on to Annecy, where we lay, from whence the next 
Day we got to Geneva. 

Thofe who are delirous to undertake this Journey, ought not 
to fet out till towards the Middle of Auguji -, they would at that 
time find not fo much Snow on the Mountain. They might go to 
the Cryftal Mines, and divert themfelves with (hooting of Bou- 
quetins ; the Oats would then be cut, and their Horfes would 
not fuffer fo much. Although we met with nothing which had the 
Appearance of Danger, neverthelefs I would recommend going well 
armed ; 'tis an eafy Precaution, and on certain Occafions very ufe- 
ful, one is never the worfe for it, and oftentimes it helps a Man 
out of a Scrape. Barometers to meafure the Height of the Moun- 
tains, portable Thermometers, and a Quadrant to take Heights 

C 2 with. 


12 /4/ Account of the Glacleres m Savoy. 

with, would be ufeful, if there were a Mathematician in Company. 
A Tent would not be neceffary, unlefs for thofe who had a Mind 
to examine every thing with the greatefl: Exadnefs, and make Ob- 
fervations ; in this Cafe one might pitch it upon the Mountain, 
and pafs the Night in it, if it were neceffary, for it did not feem 
very cold there. 

With thefe Precautions one might go through the other Parts of 
tbefe Valleys, which form the Y, and one might find out whether 
the Cracks change daily as we v/cre told j one might alfo Meafure 
thofe excelTive high Rocks which are on the Side of the Glaciere, and' 
Ciake many other curious Obfervations, according to the Tafte and 
Genius of the Travellers ; who, if they were inclined to Botany^ 
might find an ample Field of Amufement. 

One who underftood Drawing might find wherfewithal to inr- 
ploy himfelf, either on the Road, or in the Place itfelf j in fliort,. 
a Man of Genius might do many things which we have not done. 
All the Merit we can pretend to is having opened the vs'ay to others 
who may have Curiofity of the fame Kind. 

It would be right to take Vidluals ready drefs'd, and Salt Meat, 
Bread and Wine, for there are fome Places where one can get no 
Provifions, and the little there is to be had in other Places, is very 
bad. We bought a Sheep, which we kiPed, and drefled upon 
the Spot. 

It is neceflary to carry Halters to tie the Horfes, cut Shoes, 
Nails, Hammer, ^c. for they lofe their Shoes continually in thofe 
ftoney Roads. * 

With fuch Precautions all kinds of Journeys become eafy and 
agreeable, even in the moft defart Countries, and one is then more 
in a Condition to obferve with Care and Accuracy, whatever oc- 
curs worth Notice. 

This is the Subrtance, Sir, of what I can recoiled of our Jour- 
ney. My having fo long defer'd giring you this Account is owing 
to the Incapacity I found in myfelf to fay any thing worth being 
prefented to a Perfon of fo good a Tafte as yourfelf. However, 
upon the whole, 'tis your good Tafie which ought to encourage 
me : Your lively and penetrating Imagination, which unites in 
one, both the Poet and Painter, will at once lay hold and pcrfedt 
what I have but flightly fketched. I am, with the greatefl Efteem, 

S I K, 

Tour mojl Obedient Humble Servant, 


[ >3 ] 

An ACCOUNT of a Journey to the Glacieres in 
Savoy, m a Letter addrejfeci to //^(? Englifh Gentle- 
many Author of the foregoing Letter^ by P, Martel, 
Engineer. Tranjlated from the French. 


SINCE your Departure iox England \ have had an Opportunity 
of going to the Glacieres of Chamouny aloDg with four 
Friends, whofe Cnriofity had been raifed by reading your Letter, 
which has been liked by all People of Tafte, and refolved to en- 
deavour to make.thofe Obfervations vs^hich you was defirous to have 
made laft Year. I therefore took with me every thing that ap- 
peared neceffary for that Purpofe, and made ufeof all poffible Pre- 
cautions to fucceed, in the Manner you will fee. 
f I do not prefent this Account to you, Sir, as a Work fit to be 
compared with yours, but rather as a Memorial, which will ferve 
to fupply your Journal with what you would have chofen to have 
put there, and which you certainly would have inferted yourfelf 
had you had Inftruments with you. 

You will firft of all fee what Inftruments I provided, and what 
Precautions I took -, you will fee alfo a Journal of my Obferva- 
tions, to which I ftiall add an exad Account of what we faw. I 
fhall endeavour to explain the Phyfical Caufe which fupplies the 
Glacieres. I fhall put at the End of this Relation a View of the 
Valley of Chamouny % taken from the Church ; a View of the Val- 
ley of Ice, taken from Montanver^; a Map of the Road from Gc- 
7ieva ' to the Source of the ^rve, redified from Obfervations made 
upon the Places ; and fome Defigns of Chamois and Bouquetins ■», 
which you may perhaps like to fhew to your Friends in England. 
I fhall join the Obfervations of one of my Friends, and Fellow 
Travellers, upon the Plants which we found both upon the Moun- 
tain, and m the neighbouring Places. Laftly, I fliall compare our 
Obfervations and Menfurations, with thofe of the celebrated Mr. 
Fatio de Didllicr, whuh are inferted in the Appendix to the Hi- 
flory of Geneva. Be afTured, Sir, that this Relation is very exaft, 

' Place 3. fPhic 1. f Plate 2. - Place 4.. 

14 /^-^ Account of the Glacieres /;; Savoy. 

all the Operations have been repeated, and calculated twice with 
great Care, (o that you may rely on the Exadnefs of every thing 
contained in this Account. Before J come to the Point, it may be 
proper to tel! you who were the People that compofed our Com- 
pany. There was a Goldfmith very well flulled in Minerals ; 
an Apothecary who was a good Chemifl: and Botanift ; Monfieur 
Martin and Mr. Girod, whom you know to be very curious; 
which made us a Company pretty well qualified for this Under- 
takii ct; -efpecially as each of them, according to his particular 
Turn^ contributed to difcover fomething, and befides that were 
very ferviceable to me in making my Obfervations. 

I took with me a good Barometer, included in a wooden Tube, 
which I filled at every Station, according to the Method of Torri- 
■celli, with all pofTible Precaution ; and for this Purpofe, carried 
a good deal of Mercury to be always provided in Cafe of Acci- 
dents : I had with me my Semicircle of ten EngliJ}.> Inches Radius, 
with fome Sea Companies, a Camera-Obfcura, and all Implements 
for Drawing. I took alfo a Thermometer of my own make, fill- 
ed with Mercury, divided into a hundred equal Parts, from the 
freezing Point, to boiling Water, anfwering to i8o Parts of Fa- 
renheit's Thermometer, beginning, at 32, and ending at 212. I 
divided my Barometer into Inches and Lines, French Meafure, to 
have at once the Height cf the Mercury. 1 left at Geneva with 
Baron Rotberg a Barometer and Thermometer, fimilar to thofe I 
took along with me ; that I might compare our Experiments, with 
the Variations of the Barometer, in cafe the Weather had varied ; 
but the Weather being all the Time fine, the changes were not 
fenfible ; your Journal ferved us as a Guide, both for our Rout, 
and for feveral Precautions you mention as ncceflary. 

I muft obferve to you that before our Departure, I waited on 
Ptofeflbr Calandrini, to get fome farther Inftrudlions, concerning 
the Proportion of the Height of the Mercury, at different Diflan- 
ces from the Center of the Earth; he communicated tome a Ca- 
non to make a Table by, for that Purpofe; but I preferred the 
fundamental Experiment, and the Tables of Mr. Scheutzer, for 
Reafons which may be ittn in the Philofophical Tranfa^ions 
N°405. You will find here all the Heights of the Mountains ex- 
adly calculated by thofe Tables, according to the Height the Ba- 
rometer flood at, and I found them agree more €xa(5tly than any 
other with my Trigometrical Operations. 

We left Geneva Aug. 20. 1742. Before we fet out I tried my 



An Account of the GJ.icleres hi Savoy. 15 

Barometer, which upon the Side of the Rhone flood at 27 Inches 
t'.- *; and the Thermometer at 18 D. above the freezing Point 
which anfwers to 60, of Farenbeit. We dined at Bonneville ; 
where the Barometer was at 26 vt ; which make 6 Lines lefs than 
at the Side of the Rhone at Geneva ; thus it appears that the Arve 
is at Bonneville, above the Level of the Rhone 403 F. \o I. c L. 
French Meafure ; which is not a very great Rife, confidering the 
Diftance is 5 Leagues, or 15 Miles Englijb. 

We left Bf'nneville at half an Hour after two, and reached 
Clufe about fix, and got to Salanches that Night. We made feveral 
Trials of the Echoes, which you mention in the Valley between 
thefe two Places, and found they continued full four Minutes. 
The great Drought had intirely flopped the fine Cafcade you men- 
tion, at the Nan Darpena. At Salanches I tried my Barometer, 
which was at 26 t-, which was ten Lines lefs than at Geneva, 
and gave us in Height 670 F. 10 7. o L. above the Rhone. The 
Thermometer was not changed at all. Going from Salanches to 
Servoz we went through PaJJiy a Village fuuated almoft at the 
Foot of a Mountain of the fame Name. This Parifh contains fe- 
veral Hamlets, which extend near three Leagues ; Paji is on the 
right Side of the ylrve going down the Stream, and on the other 
Side is fituated the Village oi St, Gervais, near four. Miles beyond 
the lafl Hamlet of PaJ/i. Leaving Sf. Gervais we began to climb 
the Mountain, and paffed over a little Bridge, under v/hich runs a 
Water called la Gouille, which falls from the Mountain, and car- 
ries with it a very black Sand ; neverthelefs near the Bridge there is 
a little Pond at the Bottom of a Hill, where this Water is vaflly 
clea,r and beautiful. Not far from thence there is a Water which is 
called the Nan des bois : This too carries along with it a black Sar>d, 
v/hich the Inhabitants fay is blacker the more abundant the Water 
is : From thence we arrived at Servoz, on the right Side of the 
ylrve in a very narrow Valley, from whence we began to difcover 
the high Mountains which furround the Glacieres, the Barometer 
flood at 7. 25 -TT, which is 7. i tt lower than at the Rhone, and 
gave for Height F. 1306. o. 7. and from Salanchet, the Diffe- 
rence of 7. -Ti which is F. 636. o. i. in five Leagues ; this being 
the greateft Declivity that the Arve has from its firft Source : For 

• All the Meafures mentioned here are French Meafure, the Foot being to our 
Foot as 114 to 107. 

D hen 


1^ ./^/^ Account of the Glacieres in Savoy. 

here it rolls from Mountain to Mountain 'till it comes to the Plain 
of PaJJi. At Servoz they {hew'd us Lead-Ore, which to me 
feem'd to be of little Value-, they aflured us that this Valley of 
Servoz was formerly a Lake. There is ftill remaining an old Tower, 
at a fmalUDiftance from the Arve, which they call the Tower of 
the Lake. They add moreover, that en the Side of this Lake,. 
there was a Town called the City of Et. Peter, which was fwal- 
lowed up, and that the Lake having broke thro' its Banks, run all 
out into the Arve, and there remains only now a marfhy Valley. 

From Servos we took the Rout of Chamouny, we had the Jirve 
on our right Hand, butfoon pafledit over a very bad Bridge, called 
PontPeliJJier; from whence we came to that fteep Mountain, 
which they call les Monties, or the Stairs, where one of our Hor- 
fes loft a Shoe and almoft all his Hoof; from thence we entered 
into the Valley of Chamouny, having on our left xh^Arve, and on 
our Right a fine Hill, which reaches as far Southward as the 
Mountain called Montblanc. Here we found feveral Signs of Iron 
Ore, at leaft they no ways differed from thofe by which they find 
out Iron Mines in Burgundy. A League farther we came to the 
Village of Foiiilly, which is only a Hamlet of Chamouny, and 
from thence we arrived at Moncoir, where there is a Church be- 
longing tQ Chamouny ; and from thence pafling the Arve, over a 
Bridge, we arrived at Chamouny in the Evening. Here I tried the 
Barometer, which at the Side of the Arve flood at 25 F. -A, which 
is I /. 44 lower than at Geneva ; from whence I concluded that the 
Arve at this Place was above the Level of the Lake 1520 F. 5. 5. 
The Night between the 22"^ and 23*^1 hung out my Thermometer 
in the open Air, and found it in the Morning two Degrees above 
the freezing Point, which anfwers to 35 ^ Degrees of Farenheit, 
This made us cloath ourfelves warmer, in order to go up the Moun- 
tain; for which Place we fet out about fix in the Morning, hav- 
ing with us feven Men both to afTifl us in climbing, and to carry 
Provifions; we took in other Refpedts the fame Precautions as you 
did, and I carried my Inftruments with me. At a Halt which we 
made after three Hours climbing, I tried my Barometer, which 
gave me i /. -rr lower than at Chamouny j and by the Table, 1 
found that we had mounted 1179F. o. i. from the yfr-ur at 
Chamouny, after two Hours and half more very difficult climb- 
ing, we got on the Top of the Mountain called Monfanver; from 
whence we faw the Ice Valley, and were ilruck with Aftoniihment 



An Account of the Glacieres hi Savoy. 17 

at fo extraordinary a Sight. After havipg taken a View of it while 
we refted, I tried the Barometer, which ftocd at 22 -r' which was 
2 -fy lefs thin at Cbamouny, which gives for the Height of the 
Mountain 2427 F. 8. 10. and above the Level of the Lake 

In order to find a Place to Dine in we defcended towards the 
Ice, and got behind a kind of Mound, of great Stones which the 
Ice had raifed, as I will explain hereafter. The Barometer rofe 
iwo Lines, which (hewed us wc had gone down F. i^g. 7. 8. in 
this Place we dreffed our Vicfluals, and dined under the Shade of a 
great Rock. The Thermometer 'was got down to only one Degree 
above the freezing Point, which anfuersto about 33 4 of Faren- 
heit. We were not able to ftay here long by reafon of the Cold, 
which obliged us to get into the Sunfhine, altho' we were dreflcd 
as in the Twiddle of Winter ; and after Dinner every one went ac- 
cording to his Inclinations, fome upon the Ice, others to look for 
Cryftal ; for my Part I took tv/o Men with me, and returned to 
Montanvcrty where 1 remained near three Hours, which tim.e I 
employed in making a Plan of the Glacieres, which I have put at 
the End of this Account. I was affiled in this Operation by my 
Guide, who was a very intelligent Perfon, not only knowing the 
Country, but having alfo affifted in the laft Survey, which the King 
of Sardinia had caufed to be made of Savoy. 1 have more reafon 
to believe this Map to be exadl, becaufe 1 have compared it with 
a Map that I faw at the Grejier's of Cbamouny, which was of great 
Service to me. The Nearnefs and Height of the Mountains ren- 
dered it impoflible to make ufe of my Camera Obfcura, to take a 
Profpeft of the Glacieres, fo that leaving Montanvert, I arrived at 
the Priory of Cbamouny at Seven in the Evening. 

My Companions were next Morning in fo great a hurry to go 
away, that I had not time to draw any Views as I intended ; ail 
I could do was to take with my Semicircle the Height of the 
Mo?2i Blanc, by two different Operations which correfponded 
exactly. I did the fame for the Montanvert, where we had been 
the Day before, and juft fketched out ths View oi Cbamouny, here 
annexed, taken from above the Church, from whence I could fee 
the Mountain where the Arve takes its Source, the chief Outlets of 
the Glaciere ; the higheft Mountains j and the Villages, as you 
will fee in Plate 3. 

D2 I fluU 


i8 Aft AccovnT of the Glacieres m Savoy. 

I Ihall here interrupt my Narration, to give you a more di- 
ftind: Idea of the Vailey of Chamouny, the Glacieres, and what- 
ever fcemsd to me to be moft remarkable,, during the (hort 
time virhich I remained there. Firft of all then, The Valley of 
Chamoiiny may be confidered as reaching from the Top of the 
Mountain called the Monieeit as far as the Mountain, from 
from v/hence the Arve takes its Source, which is called the Col dff 
Balme^ v/hich bounds it to' the N. E. The Maps give this Val- 
ley the Form of a Crefcent, but if it were fo it ought to be 
narrow at the Ends, and wide in the Middle j but li is oa 
the contrary rather narrowell in. the Middle j however it muil 
be owned that is bends confiderably. At the Entrance into- it 
from Servoz it runs from Weft to EaCx, and afterwards to N» 
E. fo that it forms an Elbow about the Middle. 

The Length of thia Valley is about eighteen EngUp Miles 7 
cs for its width, at leaft in the Middle, it cannot be above 400 
Geometrical Paces, or about half an EngliJJ) Mile, it contains^ 
feveral Hamlets, the four principal ones are, Fouilly^ juft as you 
come into it 3 Mcntcoiry where, there is a Church en the Left 
of the Arve -, the Priory, which is in the Middle, properly called 
Chamotmyt and is on the right Side of the River j and Argeniiere 
near the End of the Valley. This Valley is bounded on the 
N. E." by the Col de Balme, where the Ar-ve rifes from two 
Springs, at a very little Diftancc from one another ; having the 
Glacjeres to the S. E. all along the Valley, which reach as far 
as above St. Gervais, in the Valley of Salenches, where there 
is a Glaciert\ called Glaciers -de St. Gervais, which comes, from 
Mont Blafic, bending a: little towards the South, and not following 
the Curve of the Valley, 

The N. W. Side is bounded by the Mountains of Valorjine, 
and the S. W. by the Paflage which goes to Servoz. The Ar*o2 
runs quite through the Middle of the Valley, receiving in its 
Paffage the Arhaircn\ and many other Rivulets and Torrents, 
which only have Water v/heii the Snows melt. To have a di- 
ftindl Idea of the Glacieres you muft fuppofe a great Valley, 
nearly parallel to that of Chamoimy^ but much higher, it being 
lituated on the Top of high Mountains. This Valley may be 
about twelve Miles long, and about two broad ; a great Part of 
it may be feen from Montanvert, which is the Mountain we 
went up. From thence you fee many Points of Mountains, 



^n Account of the Gkcieres m Savoy. 19 

(hooting up to a prodigious Height, altho' the Place on which we 
were is near F. 2^2j. 8. Pans Meafure high above the Valley, the 
Barometer being lower by 2 ■?% Lines at the Top of it than at the 
Bottom, and having calculated the Height of tliis iVIountain, by a 
trigonometrical Operation, upon a Eafe of 1440 Feet, I found 
nine Feet more, and this by two diflerent Operations. Having 
from the ikme Bafe meafured the Height of the higheft Point 
of the Mofii' Blanc, I found by two Operations 10939, taking 
in the Height of the Mountain where we were, and from the 
Rhone 12459 Feet. Moft of thefe Points are all covered with 
Ice, from tlie Top quite to their Bottoms, v/hichjoin the G/a- 
eieres of each Side. 

I can think of nothing more proper to give an Idea of this Val- 
Fcy, than the Comparifon you have made ufe of, namely, a great 
Lake, which being violently agitated by a ftrong Wind, fhoald 
have been frozen all' at once. For all the Glaciere when io&n. 
from Montanveri has at arfl: that Appearance; but as Toon as 
you come near it, you perceive that feme of the Incq^uality or 
Waves are more than forty Feet high. 

This great Valley has many Oudets between the Mountains ; 
five of which, being the principal ones, come into the Valley 
of Chamounyy and thefe Extremities", or Outlets, are what the 
Inhabitants of Cbampuny call Glaciers. Thefe Outlets are very 
fleep, fome more fo than others. Now to judge of the Caufe, 
which occafions a perpetual Ice in this Valley, we muft confi- 
der its Situation in two Refpeds; Firjl, As to the Sun; and 
Secondly, As to the Atmofphere. We muft confider its greateft 
Length, as lying from the Sunrifing in the Summer Solftice, ta 
the Sunfetting in the Equinox, by reafon of its Curvity, being, 
of all Sides furrounded with very high Mountains, and that 
chiefly on the South Side, where there is the Mountain des Ef- 
chaux, which is very high. The North Side of this Mountain 
is always covered v/ith Ice, while the Mountain, which is op- 
pofite to it. on the other Side of the Glaciere, has no Ice at all 
on it. As to the Atmofphere, you muft remember that the Sur- 
face of the Ice is raifed above the Valley of Chamouny ziti 
Feet. This great Height caufes the Air to be always very cold 
in this Valley of Ice, of which I will add fome inconteftable- 
Proofs. We were there in the Month of Augujl, in very fine 
dry Weather, without any Appearance of Rain, nor was there 



lo /^;7 Account <?/ the Glacieres ht Savoy. 

any Wind ftirring all that Day we were upon the Mountain, but 
always a clear Sun {hine; neverthelefs my Thermometer defcended to 
two Degrees above the freezing Point, which anfwers nearly to 
35 4 of Farenheit ; and this in the Valley cf Chamouny^ where 
the Air is not near fo piercing as it muft nccellarily be on the 
Ice Valley, where the Thermometer funk one whole Degree, 
under the Rock where we dined, befldes when we fet out from 
Chamoziny in the Morning, we pafTed drylliod over the Esds of 
many little Streams, which defcend in the Day-time from the 
lyiountains, and which ran abundantly at our Return in the 
Evening; fo that we were forced to go over tlie Foot Bridges, 
T^hirdly^ We faw upon the Valley of Ice a vafl Number of 
little Refervoirs, containing a very fine Water, which immediately 
congeals after Sunfet ; and that in the greatefl Heats, as all the 
Inhabitants of the Country aflured me unanimoufly, not having 
remained late enough on the Mountain to have feen it myfeln 
But this Obfervation is confirmed by the little Rivulets above 
mentioned, which ceafe running in the Night. If one confidera 
the Height of thefe Mountains, which I have already mentions 
ed, whofe Tops lofe themfelves in the Clouds ; if one confiders 
the vaft Quantities of Water, which muft come from, thsm by 
the melting of the Snow, that covers them upon the leaft Raina 
that happen in the Plain, and that this Water and Snow turn 
into Ice immediately at Sunfet ; it is eafy to difcover the Caufe 
which fills thefe Valleys with Ice. Thefe Reafoas, in my Opi-. 
nion, are fufficient, without having recourfe to the Eife<Ss qf 
Nitre ; nor indeed have we found any Appearance, of it in the 
Tafte of the Ice : And I may add, that, having put fonne of 
this Water into a Silver Spoon, and. made it evaporate by Fire, 
it left neither Sediment, or any Films, nor any other Marks 
of Nitre : So that I am firmly perfuaded, that Nitre has no 
Share in the Produdlion, or the Confervation of this Ice. For 
Ice, produced by an artificial Congelation, has an acrimonious Tafte; 
whereas this produces, a fweet Water, equal to that of cur beft 
Springs. The Glacieres in the Ice Valley are not always in the 
fame State, they fometimes augment, and fometimes diminifh; 
it Is probable they have been more abundant ; by the. Marks which 
remain they, muft have been 80 Feet higher than they are now. 
One fees on both Sides of the Glacjeres, and in the Outlets, a 
white Stone, mixed with a white Sand, very like the Rubbifh of 



An Account of the Glacieres /« Savoy. 21 

oTd Buildings. The Stone appears calcin'd, and breaks like Lime 
that has been expofed fome time to the Air ; the Edges of the 
Glacieres are very fteep, probably becaufe the Ice rifes againft 
the Bank. The Place where we dined was a kind of large Pa- 
rapet of Stone-work, the Stones of which were very large, and 
heaped, one a Top of' the other like, a Wall, being very fteep to- 
wards the Ice, vi'ith very little or no flope. This kind of Wall 
was about 80 Feet high, and 2a thick j behind it was a kind of 
2 Terras which joined the Mountain, from whence we could 
not fed the Ice without getting on the Parapet. It is to be db- 
fcrved, that the Glaciere is not level, and all the Ice has a Mo- 
tion from the higher Parts towards the lower ; that is to fay, 
that it Aides continually tov/ards the Outlets into the Valley, 
which has been remarked by many Circumftances. .F;/y?, By 
great Stones, which have been carried quite into the Valley of 
Chamouny ; they fhewed us one of a very large Size, v/hich fe- 
vera] old People afliired us, that they had feen upon the Ice. I 
liave already faid,. that the Waves, for fo I call the Inequalities- 
of the Ice, were fome of them 40 Feet high. I will now add, 
that the Hollows between them run all tranfverfly to the Courfs- 
of the Ice ; fo that in the Valley they lay one way, and in the 
Outlets another, always crcffing the Diredlion of die Ice : The 
Cavities between the fmall V/aves are all full of a ver}' clear 
Water ; there are on the Ice an infinite Number of Clefts, 
of different Widths, fome twenty Feet long, and four or five 
\Vide, others lefs. Thefe are almoft all in the weak Parts of the 
Ice, ;". e. in the Hollows of the Waves, and all direfted like the 
Waves in a tranfverfe, or oblique Manner. 'Tis by thefe Clefts 
we could judge of the Thicknefs of the Ice; in the Hollows it is 
only 5 or 6 Feet thick, in the high Waves 40 or 50. The Refle- 
ftion of the Light in thefe Clefts produces the Effedl of a Prifm j 
and 'tis very beautiful, even from the Mountain, to. fee the Mix- 
tures of blue and green arifing from thefe Clefts, and the Refer- 
voirs of Water, "efpecially when the Sun fhines on this vafl Valley 
of Ice. By thefe fame Clefts you fee under the Ice, Waters which 
run from it, at leaft in the Day-time, which fometimes mult touch 
the inferior Surface of the Ice, as tney did then, of which I fhall 
give two Proofs, which appear inconteftable, Firfi^ Our Guides 
pufh'd a Pole a great way in, and having let it go, it rofc again 
of itfelf, which could be occaGoned by nothing but the Water. 



iz An Account of the Glacieres /« Savoy. 

The other Proof is, that when any have had the Misfortune to fall 
intothefe Clefts, which has happened to fome Searchers of Cryftal, 
they have been found again upon the Ice, perfedily preferved after a 
hm Days, as foon as there has been a little Rain, or mild Weather. 
The Caufe of this can only be the Increafe of the Water, which, 
not finding a fufficient Paflage under the Ice, rifes by thefe Clefts, . 
and fo gets rid of every thing that is lighter than itfelf : But be- 
caufe the PalTage for fo large a Quantity of Water is not fufficient, 
though the Number of Clefts be very great, it is very probable, 
that it often raifes the whole Mafs of Ice. One might draw from 
this many Conjedures, both for difcovering the Caufe of the In- 
creafe of the Glacier es, during the Time of the greateft Heats, and 
alfo to explain the Elevation; of the Stones on the Edges.' 

I have already faid, that the Thickaefs of tlie Ice is very con- 

fiderable, and I, will now fay foniething upon its Confiftence. We 

found it generally much lighter, and much thinner towards the 

Edges of the Valley, than in the Middle : For although both the 

one and the other fwini upon the Water, yet that in the Middle 

finks the deepeft. I obferved before that tlie Mountains or Points, 

which Vt^e faw from the Mountain which we went up, are very 

high, and" that there are many of them. 1 particularly mentioned 

three of the principal of them, namely, one towards the South, 

and two towards the Weil ; that which is towards the South, and 

which v/e firft difcovered before us, is called UEguille du Dru % 

this Point looks very like an Obelifk, the Top of which is loft 

in the Clouds, making a verj' acute Angle at the Summit, and 

not much unlike a great Gothic Tovi^er, built of white and brown 

Stone, the Parts of which are very rough. For we muft obferve, 

that the Pieces which fall off break in a perpendicular Diredlicn, 

leaving here and there little Farts by themfelves, which make the 

Mountain look as if it was compofed of an infinite Number of 

little Towers. The Effeil of this is very beautiful when the Sun 

ihincs on them, by reafon of the agreeable Mixture of Clair Qb' 

fcur^ which is prodigioufly varied : This Mountain is too fl:eep to 

have any Ice upon it, or indeed much Snow. The two other 

Points on the- Weft Side are UEguille de Montmallet^ which is 

covered always wieh Ice, and is the neareft the VEguille du Dru j 

and Mont BlanCy v.'hich is the fartheft to the Weft, 'Tis this 

Point of Mont Blanc, which is fuppofed to be the Heigheft in all 

*ib.'r. GladereSi aucl perhaps cf ail the Alps. Many Perfons of the 



yJn Account of the Glacieres m Savoy. 23 

Country who have travelled aflured me, that they had feen it from 
Dijon^ and others from Langres, which is 135 Miles diftance. For 
the Top of it is eafy to be diflinguifhed, becaufe it is blunt, and 
quite fteep on the North-fide; if the Sides were prolonged, fo as 
to make an Angle at the Top, I imagine it would be of 25 or 30 
Degrees. This Mountain is entirely covered with Ice, quite from the 
Top down to the Bottom.. The Mountain which we went up in 
order to fee the Valley of Ice has three Names, theEaft-fide is called 
Montanvert, and that towards the Weft Blaitiere, and that in the 
Middle the Charmaux. Upon this Mountain there rife four Points 
fomething like the L'Eguille du Dru, which are called the Points 
oi Charmaux. All thefe Points are abfolutely inaccelTible, feme by 
reafon of the Ice, which covers their Surface almoft entirely, as 
Mont mallet z.y\dL Mont Blanc, and others on account of their Steepnefs, 
*Tis at the Foot of thefe Mountains, and along the Valley, of the 
Glacieres, that they find Cryftal, ind not under the Ice, as 
fome have pretended. The Cryftal is found in the very Subftance of 
the Rock, after this Manner: Thofe who go in fearch of it know- 
where to find it by certain white and blue Veins, which they fee 
upon the Rock. Thefe Veins are either alone, or many of them 
together, which unite in one Point ; they ftrike upon the Extremity of 
the Veins, and when they hear a hollow Sound they break the 
Rock, and find the Cryftal in Cavities, which are fometimes many 
Feet deep, which they call Ovens. Cryftal is a Stone which, in 
my Opinion, is produced by a gentle Vegetation, and not by Con- 
gelation ; every one knows that they are Shoots, all of the Figure 
of aHexagon,' joined one to another, almoft like the Cells in Honey 
Combs. Thefe Shoots are fometimes unequal in Thicknefs and 
Length, but all terminate in a Point, as if they had been cut 
Diamond Faftiion, they all ftick to a kind of Stone of an irregular 
Shape, which is^ kind of Root to them, partaking of, the Nature 
both of Rock and Cryftal, of a blue, white, black, and brown Colour, 
extremely hard and heaiy ; this Stone is called the Matrix. We 
muft obferve, that when once the Cryftal is taken away, there 
never comes any other, although the Matrix be left ijci the fame 
Place where it was found : And this has made fome People think 
that Cryftal was formed from the Beginning of the World. Ithappens 
fometimes that Pieces of Rocks fall down vvith the.Ovens of Cryftal 
contained in them, and loll upon the Ice. 'Tis for this Reafon that 
the Countrymen often find Pieces of Cryftal on the Sufface of the Ice, 

£ and 


44 ^^ Account of the Glacleres m Savoy. 

and fometimes adhering to it, and even in the Current of the Wa- 
ter, which forces itfelf up thro' the Clefts of the Ice. There are fome 
Places where the Cattle crofs over the Ice to go and feed at 
the Bottom of the Mountains, on the gther Side of the Valley, in 
Places v.'here the Sun can come, and where there is fome Pafture, 
and they do it the more eafily, becaufe the Surface of the Ice is 
fprinkled over with Gravel, ^r fmall Particles of Rock, which the 
Wind probably brings from the neighbouring Mountains. We found 
alfo upon the Ice many large S.tones, which in my Opinion had 
fallen down from- the Tops of the Mountains, altho' the People 
of the Place pretend that they were raifed from the Bottom of the 
Glacieres. I haye already obferved, that the Valley of Ice has a 
Communication with the Valley of Chamouny, by five Openings, 
each of which has a Name, as will be feen in the Plan at the End 
of this Account. The Glacieres ftretch by diverfe Openings and 
Vallies, as far as the Valley of Courmayeu, in the Vat d'AoJic^ but 
not by an uninterrupted Communication as formerly, by reafon 
of the falling down of fom.e Pieces of the Mountain : And there- 
fore it is impofiible to go from Chamouny to Courmayeu^ by the 
Valleys of the Glacieres. Of the five Openings which end in the 
Valley of Chatnouny, that which is called the Glacier des Bcis is 
the moil confiderable, not only for its Beauty and Largenefs, but 
becaufe the IXAvtvArbairon has its Source there; it comes out from 
under the Ice, through two Arches all of Ice. 'Tis a Sight equally 
beautiful and extraordina.'^y to fee the Inequalities which rife above 
thefe PafTages more than So Feet in Height, and v/hich appear to 
be the fineft Cryftal in the V/orld, refledling an infinite Number 
of bright Colours, juft as if one looked through fo many Cryftals, 
as there are Excrefcenclcs of Ice. For you muft imagine this 
Place, as compofcd of a vafl Quantity' of vertical Shoots, adher- 
ing, to each other, and terminating unequally both above and be- 
low. 'Tis not without great Difficulty tliat we came to this 
Place, fo worthy of Admiration ; we were even forced to go thro' 
one of the PafTages where the Water was not io abundant as at the 
other, and not without Danger, by reafon of the Pieces of Ice 
which fall oft fometimes, which our Guides have feen happen. — 
The Arbdiron is a large Stream which falls into the Arve; it comes 
from under thefe Arches, and carries along with it a vafl many 
Particle^ of Gold,, as the Goldfmith who was with us fhewed us. 
The Rivulet of Argentiere^ which comes from the Glacier of the 



An Account of the Glacieres tn Savoy. 25 

fame Name, carries with it alfo Pieces of Gold and Silver, which 
has not been obferved at the Source of the Ar-ve. I imagaine that 
the Arbaircn has another fource befides the melting of the Ice, be- 
caufe the Water never fails no more than that of the Arme, which 
rifes in a ?vIountain, where there is neither Ice nor Snow in Sum- 
mer. However that may be, the Ar've and the Arbairoit carry 
along with them a very fine. and white Sand, which makes the 
Water look as if Soap had been diflblved in it ; it keeps this Co- 
lour, till it receives the Nan deBois into it, of which I have al- 
ready fpoke. Which brings a very black Sand, that changes its 
Colour to a dark grey, which it keeps till it falls into the Rhone 
below Geneva. I imagine it may take along with this laft men- 
tioned Water fome Gold Duft, for we obferved in croffing this 
Nan de Boh a vaft many Stones, which feemed to contain both 
Gold and Silver. All the Glacieres^ at leaft thofe whip h are- call- 
ed the Glacieres of Cbamoun)\ are fituated on the left Side of the 
Arve J there is indeed a little one on the other Side, in the Moun- 
tain oi Valorfme, but it is not confiderable, and has no Communi- 
cation with the reft. Before I quit Chamouny,. I'll fay a Word con- 
cerning its natural Hiftory. The Inhabitants of this Country are very 
good fort of People, living together in great Harmony, they are ro- 
buft, live to a great Age, and have very few Beggars among them ; 
they don't begin to cultivate their Lands till the Spring, after the 
Snows are melted, which is fometimes at the End oi Aprils and fome- 
times at the End oi May ; then they begin to Plough, and Sow their 
Grains, fuchas Rye, Barley, Oats, Beans, and Buckwheat, which they 
reap in September, And of all thefe Grains they make a kind of 
Cake, which is very hard, becaufe they dry it in the Sua after it is 
baked, and they preferve it thus many Months. They don't make 
ufe of Wheat but for Children, and that in very little Quantity. 
'Tis furprifing to fee how the Mountains are cultivated, in Places 
that are almoft perpendicular, where they Plough and Sow as cle- 
verly as can be done on the Plains. This we firft obferved near 5^- 
lancbes. Fruits ripen very late in this Country, for we faw Cher- 
ries there which were not quite ripe, and we found Flowers and 
Fruits on the Mountain, which are never feen with us, but in the 
Spring. We obferved, as we were going up the Mountain, a fine 
clear Mineral Water, partaking of Iror^ and Sulphur, it is very de- 
licious and cool ; {heir Honey is white, refembling very much that 
of Narbonne for Colour, but not for Tafte. The Sheep which arc 



2 A 

i6 An hoc oviiT of the Glacieres m Saroy. 

kept near the Glacier lick the Ice, which fervcs them far drink ; 
the)' are left without any one to watch them, there being in this 
Valley no Beaft of Prey, thoDgh Bear?, Wolves, and Foxes abound 
in the Country all about. Nothing inhabits here but Chamois^ 
Bouquetins, who keep in the high Mountains, and a great Quan- 
tity of Marmotes ; this is the Account the Inhabitants gave us of 
this Animal. They fleep fix Months of the Year, that is, all Win- 
ter, and in the Sumnier they provide a warm Couch againft their 
Time of Sleeping ; for this End tliey cut Herbs with their Teeth, 
and in order to carry them to their Holes one of them lays on its 
Back, and the others load, it like a Cart, and then drag it by the 
Ears to the Hole. They pretend alfo that they provide againft be- 
ing furprized, by placing Ccntinels, who give them thfi Alarm by 
a whiftling Noife ; they eat thefe Marmotes, and find them very 
good, and ufe their Fat to burn in Lamps ; there are no Birds of 
Prey in this Valley, nor Crows, neither are there ever any Swal- 
lows. 1 obferved a remarkable kind of Grafshopper, much refem- 
bling a Dragon Fly, with long Legs. We ftaid at Cbamouny from 
TueJ'day Evening to Thurfday Morning ; but I could make no more 
Experiment with my Barometer, becaufe it had been damaged. We 
went from thence, and lay at Clufe, and from that Place to the 
Mountain called the ilfi7?<7c', which I look upon to be fomewhat higher 
than Montanver, becaufe we were half an Hour longer in going up 
it, although the Road is very even, as well as deeper. I widied 
to have had my Barometer to take the Height of it, but I was forced 
to content myfelf when I got up to the Top to obferve the Angle of 
Pofition of the Glacieres, with refpedl to Geneva, which I found 
to be 158 Degrees precifely. 1 looked down on all the Objedbs 
about us with great Pleafurej the Profpe(fl put me in mind of that 
fine Plan which you have i'ccn in our Publick Library, for the Plain 
below, icsn from this high Mountain, at firft Sight gives one the 
fame Idea. 'Tis wonderful to fee thofe Places, which we take to be 
nothing but high Mountains, divided by fine and fertile Valleys, 
covered with all forts of Trees and Fruit, nn infinite Number of 
Villages, which being in deep Bottoms, appear from thence to 
be fituated in a rural and agreeable Manner. In a word, all the 
Pains I took to claniber up this Mountain were fufficiently fecom- 
penced by a Pcofpedt fo beautiful and fo uncommon. After hav- 
ing flayed in this Situation about half an Hour, we went down 
again, and continued Our Joorney. We lay at Contatiiines, from 



An Account of the Glacieres /;? Savoy. 27 

whence we arrived at Gene^oa, Satuday Morning the 26*, all vaftly 
well fatisfied with our Journey, and without any other regrei than 
not having llayed longer at Chatnouny, to haveconGdsrcd the Bei;uties 
of the Places thereabouts. Thofe who may hereafter be defirous to 
undertake thistroublefome and curious Journey, ought to add to the 
Precautions which we have~pointed out, that ofimploying more time 
in it, and, if poffible, to come round by Switzerland, which would be 
very eafy from Chamouny. Nothing could be more agreeable than 
this Journey, by reafon of the Rarity and Variety of Views which 
continually occur -, but then it would be right to view the Maul^ 
in going there. Suffer me. Sir, to addrefs this Account of our 
Voyage to you, as the Perfon to whom of right it belongs ; you 
marked us out a way which was eafy to follow by the Help of your 
Dire<5tions, I hope you'll pardon the Incorredtnefs of my Style, 
and want of Method in putting things together ; I committed to 
Paper whatever occured to me and my Companions ; 'tis Truth 
alone which can recommend thefe Papers, and 'tis that alone which. 
can engage you to receive them favourably, and as a Mark of the 
fincere Regard with which 

/ am, 


Tour mojl Humble 

and mojl Obedient Servant , 
P. M. 

P. S. In going up Monfainver, througn a very narrow and dif- 
ficult Path, towards the Glaciere de Bois, we found fome fine Plants, 
without either quitting our Guides, or our Company, or going out 
of the Path ; namely, Pyrola folio mucfonato ; Confolida Sarace- 
nica minor Alpina ; Alchymilla Alpina minor quinque-folia ; Lami- 
rum album Plinii ; Afclepias jiore albo j ViSiorialis longa ; Eu- 
phrafia Alpina luteiiJJoribus ; Meum Athamanticum ; Car Una acau- 
lis ; Helleborus albus ; hapathum of many Kinds, Not to men- 
tion many other Plants, which would rather make a Catalogue 
than a Relation of a Journey. All along this Mountain there are 
many kinds of Pine and Fir ; there are alfo many Larch Trees 
in Latin Larix conifer a folio deciduo -, we found there fome fine- 
Agaric, and in the Trunks of feveral Larches there were Hori- 
zontal and Lateral Inciffions, by which the Italians had extradb- 



2 8 /f;/ Account of the Gkcieres in Savoy. 

ed Turpentine. At the Source of the Arbairon, which is at the • 
Foot of the Glacier e de Bois, in the Valley oi Chamouny, and even 
in the Bed of this Source of the Arve^ which was not covered with 
Water, we found the following plants ; namely, Mufcus capilla- 
cius lanuginofui dettfljfimus ; Lythophytoii album nodoj'um j Sedutn 
eilpinum J'ubhirfutum, corona foris purpurafcente, difco viridit 
and many other kinds of Seduvi. 

Compar'ifon of our Ohjenmuom with thofe of Mr. Fa- 
tio de Duillier, vjh'ich a>'e mferted m the Appen- 
dix to the Hiftory of Geneva, 4th Edit. Tom. II. 
pag. 450. 

" r-j^ H E Height of the Mountain called the Maudite is above 
" _£' the Level of the Lake at Jeaft 20C0 French Toifes, or 
♦' about 4374 Englijh Yards.'* 

I faid above, that vi'e found the Height of the Arw at Cha- 
moimy 1520 F. above the Level of the Rhone at Geneva ^ and the 
Height of the higheil ?»lountain 10939 F. above the Arve at Cba^ 
tnoimy, which in all make above the RborK F. 12,459. 5'S' ^bich 
being reduced to ^oifes^ give 2076. 3. 5. t^. Now Mr.Fatio has 
found it above 2000 Toijes above the Lcv£l of the Lake, 7 Leagues 
above Geneva, where it muft at leaft be 50 Feet higher than Gf- 
nrva ; io I take it that we have correfpondcd pretty exadiy in our 
Operations. It is to be remarked alfo, that Mr. Fafio's Obfervation 
was made at 45 Miles from the Mountahj, and minejuft at the 
Foot, and confequently much kfs fubjed to Refraftion. 



GEometrj'. Trigor.oitittry, Surveyia^g Fortifications, Gunnery, Mechanicks; and Ceverd 
. oiher Branches of the MathematicKi, are aught (in Fitncb) both at Home and Abroad^ 
according to the beft and moft expcdiycas Methods'. Alfo Land-Snrveying, and Maps and 
Plans executed in the correfteft Manner, 

By M PETER M A RT E L of Gmevn, Engineer, 
'. At the Crt^ head in ^ten Strut, SUn i to be heard of likewife at S/tv/gbter'i Coffee Hsuje. 
-. Where may be had. 

His T L A N ©f the Gty and Forti/ications of Cenevn, aud the adjacEnt Parts, as they were 
in the Year 1743. 

He alfo makes and fells. Pocket and other 7htrmmetert, with feveral Improvements, and the 
diffinent Graduations of FarmM/, Reaumur, Sir //kac Nrvjtsn, Df. //a///, and oth;.'? placed 
in fuih a Ahnner on the Inllrument, as lo be eafijy compared one with tbe'othcr. " ' 


mi s\ 




//tt«nx ,frt^i^^ 

^. ?^X' 


'^■T'tt 'U- U4 -^et^. 


. lA/t^Lt^l^ut^ fot^ 




Imp,.,™.-,,. M„M,,„ 


ACONXAGUA, 279, 284 

Agassiz, 196 

Ainslie, Charles, 200, 201 

Aldworth, Mr., 12 

Allee Blanche, i, 39,52,208,211, 

216, 220 
Aimer, Christian, 209, 235, 260 
Aimer, Hans, 207 
Aimer, Ulrich, 237 
Altels, 244 
Ames, E. L., 200 
"Ancien passage," the, loi, 102, 

104, 129, 140, 167, 170, 201, 219, 

225, 231, 232 
Anderegg, Jakob, 209, 211 
Anderegg, Melchior, 204, 205, 208, 

209, 235, 260 
Anderson, Eustace, 200 
Anderson, J. S., 207 
Angelo, II Marchese di St., 160 
Angeville, Count A. d', 156 
Angeville, Mdlle. d', 119, 156, 158, 

159, 160, 168, 180 
Annecy, 14, 94 
Aosta, 2, 14, 61 
Ararat Mount, 278 
Argcntiere Glacier, 184 
iU-kwright, Captain, 231, 232, 255 
Arlaud, M., 11, 15, 18 
Arolla, 198 

Arve river, i, 7, 8, 65, 246 
Arve, Stephen d', 103 

Atkins, H. M., 153, 154, 155, 156 
Auldjo, John, 138, 139, 141, 142, 

145, 176, 180 
Auvergne, 24 

Backler, d' Albe, 94 

Bacon, Lord, 195 

Bagnes, Val de, 198 

Baillie, Hon. Mr., 12 

Balfour, F. M., 238 

Ball, John, 199 

Balmat, Adolphe, ^^ 

Balmat, Alexis, 77 

Balmat, Auguste, 103, 172, 253 

Balmat, Edouard, 118 

Balmat, Gedeon, 165, 169, 170, 172 

Balmat, Jacques, 10, 26, 51, 52, 54, 
64. 70, 71. 73, 76, 77. 78, 80, 82, 
84, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 98, 
99, 100, 10 1, 102, 103, 104, 105, 
106, 109, 118, 122, 131, 136, 149, 
167, 174, 175, 203, 204, 206, 248, 

254, 275 
Balmat, Jacques (servant), 77 
Balmat, Jean Michel, 33, 249, 250, 


Balmat, Joachim, 161 

Balmat, Matthieu, 123, 136, 154, 
I 226, 227 

Balmat, Michel, 148, 154 
I Balmat, Pierre, 43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 
I 52, 60, 77, 86, 187, 227, 229 



Balme, Col de, 147, 194 

Barbey, Albert, 216 

Barclay, A., 250 

Barclay, F., 250 

Barry, Dr. M., 146, 147, 148, 149, 

Bartholomeus, g 
Basle, 141 
Battandier, 44, 47 
Bavaria, ex-King of, 143 
Bean, J., 234 
Beaufoy, Col. Mark, 108, 109, no, 

112, 113, 114, 276 
Beaumont, C. de, 156 
Bee a I'oiscau, 59, 60, 77 
Bennen, J. J., 205 
Benoit, Simon P., 231 
Beverley, Wm., 181, 182, 185, 194 
Bielke, Count, 97 
Bionay, 42, 202, 245, 246 
Bionnassay (Aiguille), 45, 206 
Bionnassay (Glacier), 39, 40, 41, 

48, 219, 220, 245, 246 
Bionnassay (Village), 44, 45, 46, 

47. 49- 50. 52, 53. 202 
Birkbeck, John, 196, 208, 209, 216 
Blackwood' s Magazine, 121 
Blanc, M., 164, 165 
Blanford, Mr., 229 
Blomfield, C. J., 200 
Bonhomme, Col du, 245 
Bon Nant, river, 245, 246 
Bonnet, Charles, 19, 97 
Bonneville, 12, 14, 16, 94, 178 
Bosses du Dromadaire, 39, 51, 166, 

202, 204, 205, 218, 219, 240, 269 
Bossons, Glacier des, 41, 57, 65, 

87, 109, 117, 124, 151, 184, 194, 

202, 228, 232, 249 
Bosworth, Mr., 164 
Bouille, Count F. de, 168 
Bourrit, M. T., 24, 25, 28, 34, 35, 

37. 38, 39. 40. 41. 42, 43. 44. 45. 

47. 49. 50. 88, 94, 98,99, 100, loi, 

109, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118 
Bourrit, the younger, 43, 47, 48 
Bowlby, F. A., 207 
Bravais, M., 165, 166, 167, 168 
Brentford, 180 
Brenva, Col de la, 210, 221 
Brenva Glacier, 61, 208, 209, 210, 

216, 218, 219, 242 
Brevent, the, 29, 48, 127, 139, 140, 

249. 253 
Briquet, M., 207 
Bristol, Lord, 21 
Brouillard Glacier, 216, 217, 220, 

237. 238 
Brown, F. A. G., 212, 213, 214, 216 
Browning, Mr., 229 
Brun, Laurent, 242 
Brunod, Gratien, 239 
Bryce, James, 278 
Buet, the, 29, 49 
Bugey, 157 
Burford, Robert, 193 
Burgundy, 24 
Burnett, Bishop, 4 
Butler, Dr. Montagu, 198 
Buxton, E. N., 211, 213 
Byron, Lord, 193 

Cachat, Jeax, 166, 167 

Cachat, J. Michel, 76, 77, 109, 113, 

116, 248 
Cachat, Jean Pierre, 47, 49, 77 
Cachat, Jean, Pierre the younger, 

Calotte, the, 91, 96, 204, 214 
Cambridge, 94, 238 
Camper, Mr., 113, 115 
Candolle, M. de, 20 
Carelli, Le Ch. J., 160, 161 
Carrel, J. A., 214 



Carrier, Jean, 173, 184 
Carrier, Joseph, 31, 34, 52, 103 
Carrier, Michel, 10, 103, 105 
Carrier, Michel, the younger, 139, 

Carrier, Pierre, 123, 187, 227, 229 
Carson, Dr., 198 
Castagneri, A., 239 
Caucasus, the, 253 
Caux, the Abbe, 163 
Chambery, 25 
Charles X., 150 
Charles Emmanuel III., 10 
Charlet, Joseph, 130, 132 
Charlet, Matthieu, 172 
Charpentier, 196 
Chateaubriand, 156 
Chatelet glacier, 217 
Chatteris, 171 
Chede, Lac de, 138 
Chenal, M., 175 
Chertsey, 176, 180 
Chetwynd, Mr., 12 
Chillon, Castle of, 194 
Chimborazo, 128, 278, 284 
Clark, Dr. Edward, 33, 133, 134, 

135. 142, 150. 176 
Claude, 193 
Clissold, Frederick, 126, 127, 128, 

129, 130, 132, 133 
Cluses, 8, 9, 12, 16, 178 
Cockburn, Major, 250 
Conches, 19 
Coleman, E. T., 200 
Combin, Grand, 198 
Combin, Petit, 198 
Comte, Alfred, 241 
Constantinople, 182 
Contamines, 2, 25, 246 
Conway, Sir Martin, 279 
Coolidge, W. A. B., 3, 6 
Corridor, the, 84, 137, 140, 146, 164, 

170, 172, 188, 201, 203, 205, 206, 
207, 208, 210, 219, 233, 234 

Coryat, Thomas, 4 

Cote, La (Village), 65, 70 

Cote, Mur de la, 137, 148, 152, 155, 
170, 172, 188, 189, 194, 201, 203, 
205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 219, 
231, 233, 234 

Cotopaxi, 278 

Courmayeur, i, 63, 65,95, 1^*2, 202, 
207, 208, 212, 213, 214, 215, 217, 
219, 220, 221, 229, 237, 242, 243, 
266, 282 

Couteran Dame, 28, 74, 77 

Couttet, Ambroise, 230 

Couttet, Auguste, 139 

Couttet, David, 123, 161 

Couttet, David (the 3-ounger), 154, 

Couttet, Eugene, 123 
Couttet, Frangois, 77 
Couttet, Jean Claude, 35 
Couttett, Jean Marie, 28, 31, 34, 37, 

38, 40, 42, 43, 45, 47, 49, 52, 53, 

60, 62, 77, 78, 79, 93, 104, 122, 

166, 248 
Couttet, Jean Marie, the younger, 

139, 164 
Couttet, Jos. Marie, 123, 127, 128, 

130. I33» i34> 136, 139. 141. 144. 

145, 148, 151, 158, 159, 170, 172, 

227, 229 
Couttet, Michel, 161, 165, 167, 169, 

170, 172 
Couttet, Pierre, 145 
Couttet, Simon, i6i, 162 
Couttet, Sylvain, 232, 264, 265 
Couvercle, 26, 150 
Coxe, Rev.William, 28, 40, 43, 46, 99 
Cramont, the, 217 
Creux, de Genthod, 22 
Cross, J. E., 164, 165, 254 



Croz, Michel, 253 

Cuidet, Frangois, 38, 40, 45, 47, 48, 

49- 53 
Ciimani, Signor, 242 
Cupelin, Eugene, 154 
Cuvier, 20 

Daxckerts, Justixiax, 8 
Dannemora, 192 
Davies, Rev. J. LI., 200 
Dauphine, 24, 69, 206 
Derniers, Rochers, 140, 142 
Despland, Frangois, 148, 150, 152 
Dessailloud, Matthieu, 145 
Devouassoud, Alexander, 173 
Devouassoud, Alexis, 123, 130, 132, 

Devouassoud, Ambroise, 169, 170 
Devouassoud, Augustc, 187 
Devouassoud, Frangois, 253, 254 
Devouassoud, Jean E., 169 
Devouassoud, Julien, 33, 139, 150, 

152, 154, 227 
Devouassoud, Michel, 150 
Devouassoud, Simon, 130 
Dickens, A. D., 200 
Dickens, Charles, 181, 182 
Dijon, 17, 86, 168, 178, 179 
Dole (Town), 178, 179 
Dole (the mountain), 23 
Dome glacier, 212, 213, 214, 215, 

216, 219, 220, 221, 239, 240, 243, 

Doorthesen, M., 116, 117 
Dora Baltea river, i 
Dornford, Joseph, 225, 226, 227 
Doronicum, 5 
Doulat, M., 175 
Dragons, 6 
Dranse river, 198 
Ducroz, Madame, 118 
Dumas, Alexandre, 54, 91, 92, 93, 

94, 95, loi, 102, 103, 104 

Durier, M., 39, 43, 44, 51 
Dykhtau, 283 

Ebel, Dr., 10 

Eccles, James, 216, 217, 218, 242 

Egypt, 182 

Eiffel, M., 271 

Eisenkramer, M., 156, 158, 168 

Elbruz, 253 

Ellis, Mr., 199 

Engadine, 6 

Entreves, 208 

Etna, Mount, 150, 151 

Pastes, les du Moxt Blaxc, 103 
Faulhorn, the, 147 
Fausette, Major, 250 
Favernay, Count de, 240 
Favret, Michel, 139, 145 
Favret, Pierre Frangois, 77 
Fedchenko, Prof., 235, 236 
Fellows, Charles, 135, 137, 139, 140, 

167, 274, 275 
Fer a Cheval, 90 
Finsteraarhorn, 199 
Fischer, Johann, 214, 237 
Flegere, the, 55, 193, 249, 250, 253 
Floyd, C. G., 176, 183, 185, 190, 191 
Folliguet, David, 154, 155 
Folliguet, Francois, 47, 49 
Forbes, Prof. J. D., 171, 172, 191, 

196, 228 
Forneret, M., 116, 117 
Frangois (of Sallanches), 40, 42 
Frasseron, 118 
Freshfield, D. W., 253 
Fresnay glacier, 216,217,218,237, 

Fuller, B., 229 

Galtox, E., 173, 174 
Gardner, J. D., 171, 172, 173 
Garland, P., 250 



Gay, Olivier, 233 

Geant, Aiguille du, 238 

Geant, Col du, 88, 104, 116, 168, 
201, 202, 206, 207, 208, 212, 219, 
229, 236, 239, 242, 267 

Geneva, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 16, 86, 94, 
96, 98, 153, 157, 160, 168, 178, 
179, 182, 183, 184, 194, 225, 245 

Geneva, Lake of, 45, 178, 183 

Genoa, 69 

Genoa, Gulf of, 115, 141 

Genthod, 89, 90 

George IV., 134 

Gersdorff, Baron de, 98, 100 

Gervaix, Frangois, 40, 42 

Gervaix, Nicolas, 47 

Gesner, Konrad, 3 

Girod, M., 15 

Glacieres, Les, 10, 11 

Glarus, 3, 244 

Glockner, Gross, 254 

Glover, Mr., 249 

Goethe, 21 

Goldau, 244 

Goiiter, Aig. du, 41, 42, 44, 46, 48, 
49. 53. 56, 58, 60, 202, 203, 205, 
206, 219, 241, 246, 263, 267, 268 

Gouter, Dome du, 46, 51, 52, 57, 
60, 61, 64, 66, 81, 82, 93, 117, 
169, 202, 204, 205, 206, 211, 213, 
219, 240, 246 

Grand Plateau, 61, 69, 83, 84, 95, 
102, 140, 142, 145, 148, 152, 155, 
162, 164, 166, 168, 170, 172, 174, 
181, 187, 194, 201, 203, 204, 205, 
219, 225, 227, 243, 278 

Grands Mulcts, 57, 60, 65, 78, 79, 
87, no, 112, 114, 116, 117, 118, 
I20, 122, 124, 125, 127, 128, 129, 
131, 132, 133, 135, 136, 137, 138, 
140, 142, 145, 146, 148, 149, 151, 
153. 155. 158, 159. 161, 162, 163, 

164, 166, 169, 170, 172, 173, 174, 
186, 188, 190, 194, 201, 211, 215, 
219, 225, 227, 234, 243, 262, 263, 
264, 265, 266, 267 

Grandcs Jorasses, 239 

Grange Julicn, 209, 212, 213, 214 

Gretton, W. K., 171, 254 

Griaz glacier, 39, 41, 47 

Grindclwald, 196, 253, 258 

Grises Aig., 213, 214, 215, 216, 267 

Grove, F. C, 211 

Guide du Voyageur en Suisse, 10 

Guildford, 180 

Gussfeldt Paul, 218 

Hadixgtox, Lord, ii 

Hadow, Mr., 205 

Hall, Capt. Basil, 121 

Haller, 20 

Hamburgh, 175 

Hamel, Dr. Joseph, 93, 126, 127, 

139. 145. 148, 176, 187, 223, 224, 
225, 226, 227, 228, 229, 231, 232 

Hammersmith, 180 

Hannibal, 3 

Hardy, Rev. J. F., 199, 200 

Harrow, 238 

Harvey, General, 21 

Hash Thai, 199 

Hawes, William, 135, 137, 139, 

140, 167 
Hawkins, F. V., 200 
Hayward, R. B., 200 
Hedrengen, Mr., 153, 154, 155, 156 
Heidelberg, 147 

Henderson, Gilbert, 225, 226 
Herens, Col d', 198 
Hill, Mrs., 250 
Hinchliff, T. W., 196, 200 
Hodgkinson, G. C, 204 
Hohenthal, Comte dc, 144 
Hort, Rev. F. J. A., 198, 200 



Howard, Dr. Wm., 121, 122, 123 
Hudson, Charles, 196, 201, 204, 

205, 206, 208, 223 
Hurt, J. T., 170 

Illimani, 284 

Imfeld, X., 216, 271 

Impressions de Voyage Suisse, 54 

Imseng, Abraham, 207 

Itinera, Alpina, 5 

Jackson, H. H., 130, 131, 132, 133, 

Jacot, M., 175 
Jacottet, Dr., 271 
Janssen, M., 270, 271, 272 
Jaquet, G., 36 
Jaquet, J. B., 36 
Jaquet, Joseph, 36, 37 
Jardin, the, 26, 123, 127, 139, 249, 

Jerrold, Douglas, 181 
Joad, Mr., 204 
Joseph II., Emperor, 21 
journal dc Lausanne, loi 
Juehl, 20 

Jungfrau, 196, 223 
Jura, the, 3, 23, 79, 178 

K., Countess, 154, 156 

Kasbek, 253, 283 

Kennedy, E. S., 196, 199, 200, 203, 

204, 208, 220, 223 
Kennedy, T. S., 213, 214, 215, 216 
Kitchin, Dr., 191 
Kurz, Louis, 216, 220 

Langres, 17 

Lasnier, Jean M., 209 

Lausanne, 94, 150 

La Villette, 202 

Le Fayet, 245, 246, 247 

Leonardo da Vinci, 3 

Le Pileur, M., 165, 168, 263 

Leschevin, P. X., 94, 99 
Les Ouches, 41, i6r 
Lightfoot, Rev. J. B., 200 
Lombardy, 69 

London, 94, 179, 182, 183, 184 
Longman, W., 200 
Loppe, M. Gabriel, 103 
Louis, XVI., 24 
Lusi, Count de, 119 
Lyons, 3, 141, 152, 168 

McCorkindale, Rev. G., 234, 235 

Macdonald, R. S., 211 

Macon, 3 

Maquelin, M., 207 

Maquignaz, J. J., 239 

Marke, Mr., 233 

Marke, Mrs., 233 

IMarshall, J. A. G., 237 

Martel, Peter, 15, 16, 17, 18, 249 

Martigny, 2, 123, 184, 194, 244, 250 

Martin, M., 15 

Martins, M., 165, 168 

Mather, Mr., 205 

Mathews, B. St. John, 199, 200 

Mathews, C. E., 200 

Mathews, G. S., 209 

Mathews, Wm., 197, 198, 199, 200 

Matzewski, Count, 119, 120, 251 

Mauvoisin, 244 

Maxime (of Sallanches), 37, 42 

Maynard, W. R., 200 

Mechel, Chretien de, 8 

Melun, 177, 179 

Mer de Glace, 56, 92, 171, 185, 228, 

248, 249, 250 
Meudon, 270, 272 
Meunier, Lombard J. B., 31, 32, 

34> 37. 40. 41. 43. 47. 77. "3. "5 
Meyer, Baron de, 98 
Meyringen, 253, 258 
Miage, Col de, 211, 213 



Miage glacier, 104,211,212,213, 

214, 219, 220, 245 

Midi, Aig. clu, 41, 52, 82, 117, 120, 
124, 128, 131, 151, 166, 201, 206, 
207, 219, 251, 267 

Mieulet, M., 215 

Milan, 141, 179 

Mole, the, 14, 15, 23, 31 

Mollard, Frederic, 263 

Mont Avril, 198 

Mont Blanc de Courmayeur, 217, 

Mont Blanc, Glacier du, 212, 214, 

215, 216, 219 

Mont Blanc de Taciil, 82, 202, 206, 

207, 219, 267 
Mont Cenis, 4 
Mont Joli, 157 
Mont " Maley," 8 
Mont Maudit, 56, 82, 151, 202, 206, 

207, 208, 210, 219, 267 
Mont Pilatus, 6 
Mont Rouge, Col du, 198 
Mont Velan, 197 
Mont Ventoux, 3 
Monte Rosa, 3, 112, 196, 223 
Monte Viso, 152 

Mont du Brouillard, 214, 215, 216 
Montanvert, 13, 16, 171, 185, 207, 

236, 250, 253, 259 
Montagne de la Cote, 26, 27, 31, 52, 

53. 57. 71. 73. 75. 7^, 77. 81, 88, 
98, 109, no, 113, 114, 122 

Montagnes Maudites, 7 

Moore, A. \V., 208, 209, 210, 212, 216 

Merges, 184 

Morshead, Frederick, 215, 282 

Mugnier, Jean, 161, 165, 167 

Napoleox, 3 

Nepal, 284 

Nettleship, R. L., 241, 268 

Neuchatel (Lake), 69 

Newton, Sir Isaac, 5 

Nicholson, IMr., 163 

Noire, La, 236 

" Nouvelle Description des Gla- 

cieres," 24 
Novara, 179 
Nyon, 79 

Oberlaxd, 6 

Ordinaire, M., 175 

Orsieres, 2, 165 

Ouchy, 184, I go 

Overland Mail, the, 182, 194 

Oxford, 94, 225, 241 

Paccard, Ambrose, 33 

Paccard, Francois, 28, 52 

Paccard, Josephine, 33 

Paccard, Marie C, 33 

Paccard, Michel, 28 

Paccard, Dr. M. G., 32, 35, 36, 37, 
40, 42, 47, 50, 51, 52, 63, 64, 69, 
70. 73. 76, 78, 82, 91, 92, 93, 94, 
95, 96, 97. 98, 99. 100, loi, 104, 
105, 107, 112, 113, 122, 123, 127, 
155, 174, 203, 27s, 280 

Paradis, Maria, 118, 135, 159 

Paris, 94, 160, 177, 179, 183 

Paris, Comte de, 159 

Parnassus, 284 

Pasteur, Henry, 215 

Pasteur, William, 215 

Payot, 118 

Payot, Alphonse, 217, 254 

Payot, Frederick, 271 

Payot, Jean, 254 

Payot, Joseph, 236 

Paj'ot, Michel, 216, 231, 242, 254 

Payot, Pierre, 169, 170 

Payot, Prosper, 236, 237 

Payot, Venance, 102, 163, 264 

Peasants of Chamonix, the, 176 

Peel, Sir Robert, 191, 192 

Pelerins, Les, 100, 135, 151, 190 



Perren, Peter, 205 
Perroux, Pierre, 36 
Peteret, Aiguille Blanche de, 218, 

Peteret, Aiguille Noire de, 242 
Peteret, Col de, 218, 220 
Petit Plateau, 81, 87, 104, iii, 114, 

166, 169, 240, 242 
Petits Mulcts, 65, 95, 128, 134 
Petrarch, 3 
Petrus, Johann, 238 
Philips, F., 176, 183, 184, 190, 200 
Pictet, Professor, 121, 127, 225 
Pidwel, S., 153, 154, 155, 156 
Piedmont, 66, 69 
Pierre a I'echelle, 124, 136, 139, 

i47> 151. 154. 186, 194, 207 
Pierre-Pointue, 124, 133, 136, 139, 

142, 14s, 146, 151, 153, 155, 159, 

169, 186, 264, 265, 267, 268, 281 
Pierre Ronde, 37, 40, 41, 47, 49, 52, 

Pioneer Peak, 279, 284 
Pitschner, Aiguille, 27 
Plongeon, 156 
Pococke, Dr., 10, 12 
Poggi, Signor, 242 
Pointe Rouge, 61 
Poland, 192 
Pollock, Sir F., 4 
Popocatapetl, 278 
Pornet, Henri, 37 
Prague, 242 
Prest, E. B., 200 
Price, Mr., 12 
Pringle, Capt., 144 
Priory, the, 9, 77, 88, 147 
Provence, 76 
Prussia, King of, 143 

Ramsay, J. H., 207 
Randall, Mr., 233, 234, 235 
Ravenel, Franfois, 77 

Reichard, 10 

Reigel, Mr., 243 

Reilly, A. Adams, 211, 213, 215, 

Rensselaer, J. Van, 121, 123 
Rey, Emile, 238, 260 
Rey, Mario, 239 
Rhine river, 4 
Rhone river, i, 4, 7 
Richards, S. A., 171, 184, 254 
Richmond, 180 
Riffel Alp, 198 
Riffelberg, 198 
Roc Rosset, 37 
Rochers du Mont Blanc, 214, 215, 

Rochers Rouges, 83, 84, 87, 93, 

102, 105, 119, 125, 126, 128, 129, 

131, 132, 134, 137, 161, 162, 167, 

188, 225, 228, 271, 272 
Rochester, J. M., 229 
Rodatz, M., 175 
Rothe, Herr, 240 
Rouse, H. T., 228 
Rousseau, 4 

Rouvier, Abraham, 8 ' 

Ruskin, John, 27 

Saas, 258 

St. Bernard (Great), 179, 194, 250 

St. Bernard (Little), 50 

St. Gervais, 2, 16, 42, 43, 44, 50, 51, 
S3, 157, 178, 202, 203, 204, 205, 
206, 219, 245, 246, 247, 263, 264 

St. Martin (Bridge), 12 

St. Martin (Village), 178 

St. Ours, 20 

Sala, G. A., 181 

Sales, Francois de, 9 

Saleve, 7, 23 

Sallanches, 9, 14, 16, 40, 43, 49, 76, 
157, 170, 183 

Sardinia, King of, 100, 143 



Saussure, H. B. de, 19, 25, 27,35, 1 186, 187, 188, i8g, 191, 192, 193, 

43. 46, 47. 4^. 49. 50. 5i< 53. 7 1> 72, | 194,195,200,281 

75. 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 84, 87, 88, ! Smith, A. V., 175 

89,90, 92, 94, 96, 97, 100, 106, 108, i Smyth, Christopher, 196, 201 

109, no, III, 112, 113, 114, 115, I Smyth, Grenville, 196, 201 

120, 124, 133, 142, 157, 167, 168, I Snowdon, 126, 192 

176, 183, 191, 192, 202, 205, 225, ! Southwark, 180 

253, 262, 263, 275, 277, 280 
Saussure, Madame de, 88 
Saussure, Nicholas de, 19 
Savoie, Jean Louis de, 9 
Savoie, Philippe de, 9 
Savoix, Michel, 242 
Savoy, 206, 252, 276 
Scheuchzer, J. J., 5, 6, 11 
Schniirdreher, Dr. R., 242, 243 
Seiler, Alex., 198 
Sella, Quintino, 215 
Selligue, M., 225 
Semur, 178, 179 
Senebier, 20 
Sens, 177, 179 
Servoz, 12, 179 
Shepherd, Rev. E. J., 200 
Sherwill, Markham, 33, 119, 133, 

134, 135, 142, 150, 176, 274, 275 
Short, Rev. W. F., 205 
Shuckburgh, Sir George, 30 
Siberia, 235 
Sikkim, 284 
Simler, Josias, 4 
Simond, Ambroise, 169, 228 
Simond, Auguste, 166, 167, 253 
Simond, David, 150, 152, 154 
Simond, Gaspard, 241 
Simond, Jacques, 139 
Simond, Matthieu, 150 
Simond, Michel, 231, 240 
Simond, Pierre, 26, 27 
Simond, Pierre Joseph, 154 
Sixt, 90, 103, 254 
Smith, Albert, 112, 113, 174, 176, 
177, 179, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 

Spielman, 181 
Spitalmatten, 245 
Stafford, 164 
Staines, 180 
Starke, Mrs., 10 
Stephen, Leslie, 205, 223 
Stevenson, E. J., 196, 201, 202 
Stillingfleet, Mr., 12 
Stoppen, Count K., 156, 158 
Sulzbach, Prince of, 10 
Sweden, 192 

" Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide- 
books," 6 
Switzerland, 2, 206 

Taconxay glacier, 60, 65, 87, 194 

Tacul, the, 120 

Tairraz, Auguste, 187, 227 

Tairraz, Basil, 173 

Tairraz, Frederic, 229, 230 

Tairraz, Jean, 183, 187 

Tairraz, Jean M., 118, 148, 150, 

152, 173 
Tairraz, Jean Pierre, 72, 96 
Tairraz, Jean Pierre the younger, 

130. 139 
Tairraz, Joseph, 173 
Tairraz, Marie, 265 
Tairraz, Pierre, 148 
Tairraz, Victor, 118, 173 
Talfourd, T. N., 164 
Tartarin, 222 
Taugwald, Peter, 211 
Taylor, Rev. Lsaac, 200 
Tenda, Col de, 254 
Teneriffe, Peak of, 81 
Tete Noire, 123, 184, 194 



Tete Rousse, 39, 44, 202, 246, 247, 

Tetnuld, 253 
Tetu, 76, 79 
Thackeray, W. M., 181 
Thames Tunnel, 137 
Thielman, Herr Von, 278 
Thruston, Frederick, 250 
Tilly, Count H. de, 150, 151, 152, 

153. 154 
Tissay, Victor, 28 

Tonnerre, 178, 179 
Tour, Col du, 165 
Tour Village, 165 
Tournier, Alexis, 76, 77 
Tournier, Frangois, 231 
Tournier, Jean Michel, 47, 49, 52, 

Tournier, Josef, 231 
Tournier, Simon, 148, 154 
Trelatete glacier, 245 
Tronchet, Anselm, 130 
Trower, Henry, 200 
Tuckett, F. F., 205 
Tupungato, 284 
Turin, 94 

Tyndall, Professor, 281 
Tyrol, 69 

UXDRELL, CaPTAIX J., 123, I24, I25 

Urban, Pope, the Second, 9 
Utterson, Kelso, 216 

Val Ferret, i 

Vallee Blanche, 120, 207 

Vallot, J., 268, 269, 270, 271, 277 

Vallot Observatory, 269 
Vallot Refuge, 40, 240, 241, 243, 

268, 276 
Val Montjoie, i 
Valorsine, 8 
Val Tournanche, 258 
Vansittart, G. N., 176, 187, 190, 191, 


Varallo, 160 

Vavassour, F., 229 

Venice, 4, 153 

Vernon Admiral, 14 

Vierge La, 236 

Villanova, Count de, 239, 240 

Villeneuve, 184 

Vines, Mr., 279 

Visaille, 239 

Visscher Nicolaus, 8 

Vivarais, 24 

Vogel, 3 

Vosges, the, 23 

Voyages dans les Alpes, 20 

Voza, Col de, 41, 50, 241 

Waddington, a., 175 

Walker, Frank, 209, 210 / \ "^ 

Walker, Horace, 209 

Walters, Robert, 200 

Watson, Rev. H. W., 200 

West, W. E. S., 176, 183, 185, 190 

Wetterhorn, 196, 223 

Whymper, Edward, loi, 278 

Wilbraham, E. B., 144, 145, 146 

W^ilkie, Sir David, 138 

Wilkinson, Miss, 233 

Williams, J. B. S., 200 

Williamson, Mr., 11 

Wills, Alfred, 196, 200 

Wilshire, C. W., 200 

Windham, WiUiam, 10, 12, 13, 14, 

15, 17, 18, 19, 248, 249 
Woodley, Mr., 113, 115, 116, 117, 

WooUey, J., 170 

YoUL, G. v., 200 
Young, Bulkeley, 231 
Young, Sir George, 231 

Zermatt, 198 
Zurbriggen, 279 
Zurich, 3, 5